For those of you that get to the Selection Centre / Stage 3 Assessment for GP ST entry, here are a few helpful tips on what to expect.
All deaneries use the same national format for Stage 3 Assessments. This consists of a 4 part assessment. These include:
Simulated consultation with a patient
Simulated consultation with a relative / carer
Simulated consultation with a colleague
Written prioritisation exercise
The consultations last 10 minutes each including reading time, and the written exercise lasts 30 minutes. All 4 parts are equally important.
The selection centre is designed to assess the following competences throughout the different assessments:
- Empathy and sensitivity
- Communication skills
- Conceptual thinking and problem solving
- Professional integrity
Written prioritisation exercise
This typically gives you a list of things that need to be addressed (usually 5), and asks for you to list them in order of importance / priority, and then to give justifications and to describe the actions you would take. There is no one right answer / order, so it is important NOT to get hung up on that. Usually there is at least one that is clearly of high clinical importance. It is important to discuss both your REASONING and justifications, and what actions you would take in detail. Answers should relate to the competencies being tested, and be specific to the information provided and in what you would do. A good answer will have a good number of points for each of the 5 tasks to be addressed and show positives for all the competences being assessed. Written communication including spelling, punctuation and grammar as well as structured explanations are assessed in this task.
You will do 3 different simulated consultations – 1 with a patient, 1 with a relative or a carer, and 1 with a colleague.
The simulated consultations could include various communication issues – an ethical scenario, breaking bad news, explaining an investigation or diagnosis, etc. In these cases, remember the basics will get you some easy marks – introduce yourself, try to establish rapport, ask about the other person’s Ideas, Concerns and Expectations. Check their understanding and try to be person centred.
Clinical knowledge is not being assessed, however if you demonstrate a clear lack of basic clinical expertise, or tell the patient something that is clearly unsafe, this may affect your overall mark.
The role players are not there to assess you – the examiner will be either a GP trainer or a consultant, however they do provide the examiners with some feedback which may be considered in deciding your final marks.
Time can be very tight, as you only have 10 minutes including reading time. One way to use your time more effectively is to become familiar with the format of the information provided – you will see that half the text on the page is the same for all cases – once you know what this says, you can ignore it in the exam, reducing your reading time.
Practise makes perfect
The selection centre assesses skills, rather than just knowledge, so it is really important to try to get as much practise for each station as possible before the exam. Forming a study group to work through sample cases and practise together can be a useful way to improve. If you can get specific feedback on your communication and consultation skills this can help you work on making improvements.