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125 doctors take first step towards specialist GP

The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners has issued the following media release.

125 doctors take first step towards specialist GP

The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners has announced the results of its annual Primary Membership Examination (PRIMEX). This assessment, comprising clinical and written examinations is a major indicator of a doctor’s readiness to move to a less stringently supervised environment while maintaining patient safety.

New Zealand now has an additional 125 doctors who have demonstrated high levels of clinical competence and who are now on the pathway to becoming specialist General Practitioners and are entitled to use the designation MRNZCGP.

Their next big test will come in two years when they will be assessed for Fellowship of the College, enabling them to practice unsupervised in the community.

This year there was a lower than expected pass rate for overseas trained doctors – 55% passed compared with 96% of New Zealand trained doctors. College Board of Assessment Chair Dr Steven Lillis said concern over this difference prompted further analysis of the rigorous examination, which consists of two three hour written papers, and a clinical assessment where candidates face 10 simulated patient consultations. The questions this year were shown to be no harder than in previous years.

“Looking more closely at the characteristics of the candidates provides some explanation for the lower pass rate,” Dr Lillis said. Registrars, who undertake an intensive in-practice teaching programme with a specialist GP-teacher as well as attending weekly seminars passed at a much higher rate (90%) compared to those doctors who attended only the seminars (60%).

“This differential clearly shows the added value of the College’s General Practice Education Programme (GPEP) which the Registrars undertake, and which is funded by the Government. By contrast those doctors who only attend the weekly seminar are not exposed to the same level of tutoring and supervision. Additionally if those doctors gained their degree overseas, learning about New Zealanders and their health needs may be difficult for them.

“The College sets high standards because we believe New Zealanders have a right to high quality medical treatment,” Dr Lillis said.

Earlier this year the Government announced an increase to the GPEP Registrar places for 2008, taking them to 104 places compared to only 54 places in 2006. This will enable more overseas trained doctors to participate in the College’s programme.

Those doctors failing any part of this year’s examination may re-sit next year.


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