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Open Access Research article

Towards a Formative Assessment of Classroom Competencies (FACCs) for postgraduate medical trainees

Christopher S Gray12*, Anthony J Hildreth13, Catherine Fisher1, Andrew Brown1, Anita Jones1, Ruth Turner1 and Leslie Boobis1

Author Affiliations

1 The Education Centre, City Hospitals Sunderland Foundation Trust, Kayll Road, Sunderland, Tyne and Wear, SR4 7TP, UK

2 School of Clinical Medical Sciences, Newcastle University, Framlington Place, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE2 4HH, UK

3 School of Health, Community and Education Studies, Northumbria University, Coach Lane, Benton, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE7 7XA, UK

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BMC Medical Education 2008, 8:61  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-8-61

Published: 17 December 2008



An assumption of clinical competency is no longer acceptable or feasible in routine clinical practice. We sought to determine the feasibility, practicability and efficacy of undertaking a formal assessment of clinical competency for all postgraduate medical trainees in a large NHS foundation trust.


FY1 doctors were asked to complete a questionnaire to determine prior experience and self reported confidence in performing the GMC core competencies. From this a consensus panel of key partners considered and developed an 8 station Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) circuit to assess clinical competencies in all training grade medical staff... The OSCE was then administered to all training grade doctors as part of their NHS trust induction process.


106 (87.6% of all trainees) participated in the assessment during the first 14 days of appointment. Candidates achieved high median raw percentage scores for the majority of stations however analysis of pre defined critical errors and omissions identified important areas for concern. Performance of newly qualified FY1 doctor was significantly better than other grades for the arterial blood gas estimation and nasogastric tube insertion stations.


Delivering a formal classroom assessment of clinical competencies to all trainees as part of the induction process was both feasible and useful. The assessment identified areas of concern for future training and also served to reassure as to the proficiency of trainees in undertaking the majority of core competencies.