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Swansea MRCGP Course


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Frequently Asked Questions

When should I attend the course?

There are a couple of factors to consider here - if you come to the course very early on in your GP attachment there's a risk that your consulting skills will not be developed enough for you to get the most out of the CSA practical session. On the other hand leave it too late and you leave yourself too little time to practice the skills you identify as learning needs while on the course. We'd recommend waiting till you've been in practice for at least three months and have started video recording consultations but making sure you've got at least 4-8 weeks between attending the course and sitting the CSA.

When should I sit the exam?

This is a tricky one! It's probably reasonable to sit the AKT before you sit the CSA - much of the knowledge tested is medical knowledge that you should have before starting your practice attachment. Don't forget though that 20% of the questions are on research, critical appraisal, administration and informatics and you're likely to start most of your learning about this in General Practice.

For the CSA there are a few factors to consider. Your skills will hopefully continuously improve throughout your GP attachment so in theory the later you sit it the greater your chance of passing. However most registrars will want to give themselves the opportunity to have a go at resitting the CSA before their practice attachment ends in the event of failing it first time round. Sitting the CSA early and failing is expensive! In addition to requiring sophisticated consulting skills you only have 10 minutes per consultation and it takes most registrars quite a few months before they're able to manage complex or challenging consultations in 10 minutes.

The main sittings of the CSA are in February and May. If you're a registrar starting your GP year in August you'll only have been consulting for 6 months by the time of the February exam, although this situation changes if your training includes 18 months in General Practice.

Why is the course so expensive?

We know it's a lot of money and do what we can to keep the course fee as competitive as possible. The main cost is of course tutor time, both in paying for tutors and assessors on the course and in preparing the material for the course. GPs who are highly skilled assessors and teachers quite rightly expect reasonable reimbursement to give up their time. The major cost on the course is the practical CSA sessions with an absolute maximum group size of 10 and an assessor facilitating each group plus at least one role-player per group it all adds up.

Running the CSA sessions also requires a number of mock cases - these all need a detailed role-player briefing and guidance to the assessor on how the case should be marked. Each case takes about 4 hours to write and will then need rehearsal time with the role-player.

Good venues cost money. The previous course was usually held in the University and most of the negative feedback we received related to the accommodation and catering etc. The course venue is carefully chosen with this in mind but it does increase the cost a little.

Why do I need to attend a course?

Maybe you don't! The Course Director, Dr. Bob Mortimer, totally agrees that the key to passing the CSA is being a good doctor, with no hidden catches and no short cuts that can be taught quickly on a course. However the CSA does have a failure rate and is expensive to resit. We feel that we can both significantly improve your chances of passing the exam in addition to boosting your confidence and guiding you in your preparation

But our VT Programme Director/Course Organiser provides CSA practical sessions ...

And many of them are truly excellent. However feedback from candidates attending our courses is that our cases are better - writing good cases isn't as simple as it seems and our customers consistently feed back to us that the cases they encounter on our course are noticably diffferent. We use skilled role-players to create the realistic feel of the consultations you'll encounter in the CSA Centre in croydon and each small group is facilitated by an experienced CSA Examiner who will not only give individual feedback but will also give advice on how best to tackle each scenario and what level of performance is expected in the exam.

How many cases will I personally experience?

We run a maximum group size of 10 but the groups are typically 6-8 and there are 14 cases timetabled on the Saturday. However we would stress that you shouldn't look at this as 'CSA practice' and judge it on the number of cases you'll sit - we firmly believe that you get that every working day in your own consultations. You'll be surprised how much you learn from watching your peers attempt the cases and there's no substitute for feedback from a highly trained CSA Examiner. We only use examiners who also have teaching credentials.

Why don't you quote your success rates?

Because they're unfortunately fairly meaningless! In his former life as an MRCGP written paper examiner Dr. Bob Mortimer's area of expertise was in critical appraisal. The phrase 'selection bias' springs to mind. A high pass rate might be because those who are particularly well motivated to pass the exam are the ones who go to the trouble and expense of attending a course. Would you be surprised if they had a higher than average pass rate? Or what about if the course gets a reputation for helping those who are struggling or have already failed - perhaps you'd accept that they're less likely than average to pass ...

Suffice to say that the feedback from those who attend is consistently that the course undoubtedly increased their chances of passing.

Can I split my booking?

Where possible we will try to accommodate you if you want to attend the AKT session before coming for the CSA sessions. In this case it's worth checking with us first that we can fit you in on the courses you want to attend. You'll then just pay the usual full course fee rather than paying for the AKT and CSA sessions seperately.

What if I want to come again?

It probably isn't worth attending the lecture sessions for the AKT or the CSA a second time but you might want to come and try the CSA practical sessions again. So long as we have the capacity we'll offer a discount of 50 to previous customers.

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Page last updated Wednesday, 21 January 2009, 7:29pm