Glossary for Medical & Dental Education and Training

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Glossary for Medical & Dental Education and Training

Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AoMRC)

The Academy is a UK wide body which promotes and coordinates aspects of the work of all the medical royal colleges and faculties.

Angoff method
A method of standard setting based on group judgments about the performance of hypothetical borderline (‘just passing’) trainees.
Annual Review of Competence Progression (ARCP)
ARCP is a Postgraduate Deanery process which scrutinises each trainee’s suitability to progress to the next stage of, or to complete, a training programme. It is usually held annually, but some specialties have more frequent reviews in the early years of training. Foundation Programmes may have a similar annual review process. The review panel, which includes the Training Programme Director, bases its recommendations on evidence in the trainee’s portfolio of experience and competencies gained, together with the reports of the Supervisor(s). The ARCP is not in itself an assessment exercise. The ARCP only applies to dental trainees appointed since October 2009 and the implementation of specialty training and the introduction of the Dental Gold Guide (A reference Guide for PG Dental Specialty training in the UK). See Record of In Training Assessment (RITA) for the arrangements for most specialist trainees appointed prior to October 2009.
A process to provide constructive feedback on the performance of a student, trainee or a member of staff to chart their continuing progress, and to identify their development needs.
In postgraduate dental training, appraisal is an individual and private planned review of progress between trainee and supervisor (usually their educational supervisor) that focuses on achievements, future learning and career management support. Appraisal forms part of the initial, interim and final meetings that a Trainee has with their Educational or Clinical Supervisor during a Placement.
Association for Dental Education Europe

Association for the Study of Medical Education.
Annual Specialty Report (Quality Improvement Framework)
A systematic procedure for measuring a learner’s progress or level of achievement against defined criteria (including curriculum outcomes). This may be for summative purposes (determining progress) or formative purposes (giving feedback).
Assessment for learning
Assessment for learning is primarily aimed at aiding learning through constructive feedback that identifies areas for development. Alternative terms are formative

or low-stakes assessment.

Assessment of learning
Assessment of learning is primarily aimed at determining a level of competence to permit progression or certification of education or training. Such assessments are undertaken infrequently (for example, examinations) and must have high reliability and predictive value as they often form the basis of high stakes pass/fail decisions.
Assessment of Performance (AoP)
An Assessment of Performance is an assessment of learning using WPBA tools. AoPs should be recognised as a planned series of events, identified as part of the relevant curriculum, not as an end in themselves; in the way that traditional formal examinations can be seen.
Assessment system
An assessment system is designed to ensure that trainees learn the knowledge, skills, judgement and professional behaviour required and set out in a curriculum.

Contemporary best practice favours assessment systems that are multi-faceted and assess an appropriate spectrum of a syllabus in a reliable way. This is done through a Blueprint.

An assessor provides an assessment or assessments. Assessors should have training in the relevant assessment methods and should normally be competent (preferably expert) in the knowledge, skill, judgment or professional behaviour that is being assessed. Training is not required for assessors who provide ratings for Multi-source feedback (MSF).
A template used to define the content of a test that may be designed as a matrix or a

series of matrices.

This can help to ensure that the assessments used in the assessment system cover all the competencies required by the curriculum.
The demonstration of competence in a variety of settings.

Case based learning (CBL)
CBL’s main traits are that a case, problem, or inquiry is used to stimulate and underpin the acquisition of knowledge, skills, and attitudes. Cases place events in a context or situation that promote authentic learning. Cases are generally written as problems that provide the student with a background of a patient or other clinical situation. Supporting information is provided, such as latest research articles, vital signs, clinical signs and symptoms, and laboratory results (Emerg Med J 2005;22:577-581 doi:10.1136/emj.2004.022707 ‘Case based learning—a review of the literature: is there scope for this educational paradigm in prehospital education?’.
Certificate of Completion of Specialist Training: This is awarded by the GDC to trainees who satisfactorily complete their training in an approved specialty.
Certificate of Completion of Training: the medical successor to the award of a CCST. The latter fell into abeyance with the introduction of the Medical Gold Guide in 2007.
CESR (only applies in medicine currently)
Certificate of Eligibility for Specialist Registration: This is awarded to doctors who demonstrate one of the following:-

  • that their specialist training or qualifications together with their experience are equivalent to the GMC approved CCT curriculum

  • that their overseas specialist training or qualifications together with their experience are equivalent to a consultant in one of the three UK Health Services.

  • that their experience gained through academic or research together with their clinical experience are equivalent to a consultant in one of the three UK Health Services.

This certificate enables those with full registration (see reference) to be entered onto the GMC Specialist Register.

See Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence
Clinical supervisor
A clinical supervisor is a trainer who is selected and appropriately trained to be responsible for overseeing a specified trainee’s clinical work and providing constructive feedback on that work during a training placement. Some training schemes appoint an educational supervisor (see reference) for each placement. The roles of clinical and educational supervisor may then be merged.
Competence (or competency)

A holistic understanding of practice and an all-round ability to carry it out, that is what a person knows and can do under ideal circumstances. Competence must be distinguished from the competencies assessed in contemporary testing programmes. It rests on an integrated deep structure of understanding and involves subtleties of sensitivity, imagination, wisdom, judgement and moral awareness that are the mark of a wise clincian. A successful conceptualisation of competence would show how specific competencies are integrated at a higher level.

For ‘competence standard’ see Standards.
A competency is a specific capability, a discrete skill or a visible behaviour that is learnt and assessed separately.
Placed on approval. If conditions are not met the GDC or a PCT may take steps to withdraw approval.
Continuing professional development (CPD)

CPD refers to any learning that you take part in outside undergraduate education and postgraduate training which helps you maintain and improve your performance. It covers the development of your knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviours across all areas of your clinical practice. It includes all learning activities, both formal and informal, by which you maintain and develop the quality of your professional work. The GDC sets out a requirement, that will eventually be included in the revalidation process, that currently all dentists must complete 15 hours of verifiable CPD and 35 hours of non-verfiable CPD each calendar year.


The UK Committee of (Medical) General Practice Education, comprising Deanery GP Directors.


The UK Committee of Postgraduate Dental Deans and Directors

Core specialty training

Training for some medical specialties is broken down into two parts: ‘core specialty training’ followed by ‘higher specialty training’. For most such specialties, core training lasts for an indicative two years. Trainees then compete for places on higher specialty training programmes. Following the implementation of MMC this type of training is sometimes referred to as decoupled to differentiate it from run through or coupled training.

Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence (CHRE)

This organisation oversees the nine health professional regulators, including the GMC and GDC in the UK. It does this by:

  • reviewing and assuring performance of the health professional regulators

  • auditing the initial handling of fitness to practise procedures

  • referring cases to court when decisions are considered too lenient

  • advising on policy about the regulation of health professions.

Care Quality Commission
Criterion referencing
Criterion referenced assessment measures performance against an absolute standard. In other words, each trainee’s performance is reviewed against a benchmark (usually the pass mark). It is contrasted with norm referencing

Cronbach’s alpha
The most commonly measured aspect of reliability of a test; checking for internal consistency. The closer to 1.0, the more reliable the assessment. There is much debate about what constitutes a ‘good enough’ co-efficient. As a general rule, anything under 0.5 would be normally viewed as suspect (and further investigation would be required), between 0.6 and 0.8 is good and between 0.8 and 0.9 indicates strong reliability. Over 0.9 would be suspiciously good – in which case, it would be worth checking that the data are correct, and rerunning the analysis.
A statement of the intended aims and objectives, content, experiences, outcomes and processes of a programme, including a description of the structure and expected methods of learning, teaching, feedback and supervision. The curriculum should set out what learning outcomes the learner will achieve.
Deaneries (postgraduate)
The UK bodies currently commissioning (in some parts of England only), delivering and quality managing and improving postgraduate medical and dentral education and training within the UK
Dental Career Development Post (CPD Post)
A period of one to two years in post foundation training (at the appropriate SHO level pay scale) in which more service can be provided alongside training. Experienced gained my act as a taster for specialty training. Experience in such a post contributes to that required for appointment to a specialty dentist post (SAS post).
Dental Foundation Programme
The Dental Foundation Programme is a two-year (wte) generic training programme in the UK which forms the bridge between dental school and specialist/general practice training. The satisfactory completion of year 1 i(DF1) s associated with the award of a Vocational Training number that allows entry to an NHS Performer’s list. Satisfactory completion of year 2 (DF2) is considered as evidence of completion of a broad based training required for entry to specialty training programmes in the UK.

Dental specialty training (DST)

Following successful completion of broad based training, such as dental foundation training, trainees are eligible to apply for dental specialty training. Specialty training programmes vary in length and are tailored to the needs of the specialty. The SACs of the medical royal colleges and faculties have produced national curricula for each training programme to meet the standards required by the GDC. On successful completion of higher specialty training, specialty dental trainees receive a Certificate of Completion of Specialist Training (CCST).
Dental Evaluation of Performance, Effectively a dental version of Mini-CEX used in dental foundation training in England and Wales (see LEP).
Dental Foundation Training
Department for Health, Social Services and Public Safety in Northern Ireland
Deanery Report – from postgraduate deaneries to the GMC
Dental Schools Council: this is the UK Committee of Deans/Directors of Dental Schools
Educational agreement
A mutually acceptable educational development plan drawn up jointly by the Trainee and their Educational Supervisor. The content of the Educational Agreement

will depend upon the aspirations of the Trainee (as laid out in their Personal Development Plan), the learning outcomes required by the curriculum being studied and the opportunities available during the placement. A Structured Learning Plan

is an alternative term.
Educational appraisal
A process to provide constructive and supportive feedback on the trainee’s performance, chart their continuing progress and identify their developmental needs (after The New Doctor transitional edition, 2005).
Educational contract
The Postgraduate Dean does not employ postgraduate trainees but commissions or contracts for training from the employer normally through an educational contract with the unit/local education provider (LEP) providing a postgraduate medical or dental education learning environment/placement.
Educational impact
See consequential validity (under Validity)
Educational supervisor (ES)
An educational supervisor is a trainer who is selected and appropriately trained to be

responsible for the overall supervision and management of a specified trainee’s educational progress during a training placement or series of placements. The educational supervisor is responsible for the trainee’s educational agreement

A period of clinical or research experience that is chosen by a medical or dental student and is often taken outside the UK.
Extended matching question (EMQ)
A detailed form of multiple choice question (MCQ) having a lead-in statement such as a clinical vignette, followed by a list of at least five options from which the learner selects one or more, as instructed.
A criterion by which to judge an assessment or an overall assessment process, which may cover affordability and/or proportionality. Also known as practicality.
Formative assessment
See Assessment for learning
Medical Foundation Programme
The Foundation Programme is a two-year (wte) generic training programme in the UK which forms the bridge between medical school and specialist/general practice

training. The satisfactory completion of year 1 is associated with a recommendation for full registration with the GMC and the satisfactory completion of year 2 is associated with the award of an FACD which is required to apply for GP and specialty training programmes or posts in the UK.

General Dental Council
Generalisability Theory
This is an extension of classical reliability theory and methodology that is now becoming the preferred option. Analysis indicates the magnitude of errors from various specified sources, such as number of items in the assessment, the number of assessors etc. The analysis is used both to indicate the reliability of the test and to evaluate the generalisability beyond the specific sample of items, persons and observational conditions that were studied.
General Medical Council
GP Register

The GP Register includes the names of all those doctors who are eligible to be included on the register, and to work as GPs in the NHS, providing they also gain access to a performers’ list.

GP trainee

A doctor on a GMC approved training programme to become a GP. Specialty training for general practice takes at least three years (wte) to complete. It usually involves placements lasting a minimum of 24 months in a hospital setting and at least 12 months in general practice. On successful completion of GP training, doctors receive a Certificate of Completion of GP Training (CCTGP) and can apply to join the GP Register.


Heath Education England (supercedes Medical Education England 2013)

Higher specialty training (HST)

Following successful completion of core specialty or decoupled training, trainees are eligible to apply for higher specialty training. Specialty training programmes vary in length and are tailored to the needs of the specialty. The medical royal colleges and faculties have produced national curricula for each training programme to meet the standards required by the GMC. On successful completion of higher specialty training, doctors receive a Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT). Those who finish training in HST but wish to count training outside approved training programmes as part of their application generally receive a CESR via the combined programme route (CP).

High-stakes assessment
See Assessment of learning
Hofstee method
A ‘compromise’ method of standard setting that combines aspects of both relative and absolute methods. It takes account of both the difficulty of the test items and of the maximum and minimum acceptable failure rate for the exam, and was designed for use in high stakes examinations with a large number of trainees.
Integrated teaching
A system where the clinical and basic sciences are taught and learned together. This allows learners to see how scientific knowledge and clinical experience are combined to support good medical practice.
Item response theory (IRT)
A set of mathematical models for relating an individual’s performance in a test to that individual’s level of ability. These models are based on the fundamental theory that an individual’s expected performance on a particular test item is a function of both the level of difficulty of the item and the individual’s level of ability. IRT also examines individual items in relation to each other, and to the test as a whole, quantifying such characteristics as item difficulty and their ability to discriminate between good and poor trainees.
Junior Doctors Committee of the BMA.
Learning outcomes
These are the competencies to be acquired by the end of a period of training.
Longitudinal Evaluation of Performance, Effectively a dental version of Mini-CEX used in Scottish dental foundation training.
Local Education and Training Board
Local Education Provider

Can be a hospital, community provider or general practice. Terminology varies across the UK but the term LEP is now applied universally.

Local faculty
The term ‘local faculty’ is used to denote those involved in the delivery of postgraduate medical and dental education locally: Heads of Schools, Associate Postgraduate Deans, Foundation programme directors, training programme directors, directors of medical/dental education, clinical tutors, GP trainers, college tutors, clinical and educational supervisors and others with specific roles in education where this relates to postgraduate medical and dental education and training.

Locum Appointment for Service (LAS)
Short-term appointment used to fill a service gap, experience in such posts cannot count towards a CCST.
Locum Appointment for Training (LAT)
Short-term appointment to fill a gap in a training programme, minimum duration is 3 months (wte) and should not normally last more than 12 months (wte).

Providing the post and experience acquired can be seen to contribute demonstrably towards progress through a programme it can be used propspectively to count toward a CCST.

Low-Stakes Assessment
See Assessment for learning
Measurement error
The difference between the ‘true’ score (the appropriate score for the candidate) and the score actually obtained in an assessment. Measurement error is present in all assessments, but can be minimised by good item design and, up to a point, by increasing the number of test items. It is usually calculated as the Standard Error of Measurement.
Medical Education England: Established by DH on recommendations made in the Tooke Report following the problems that arose from MTAS. MEE ceases in September 2012 – See HEE
Medical Gold Guide
The Gold Guide (A reference Guide for PG Specialty training in the UK) 4th Edition sets out the arrangements for specialty registrar (StR) and GP registrar (GPR) training from June 2010. This edition is a consolidation of earlier versions of the Gold Guide (first published in 2007) and applies to all trainees taking up appointments in specialty training which commenced on or after August 2007. 

  1. Medical Schools Council

  2. Medical Students Committee of the BMA.

Multiple choice questions (MCQs)
A lead-in statement (typically a short clinical description) followed by a list of options (five is generally considered the optimum) from which the trainee selects the best answer.
Multi-source feedback (MSF)
This is an important tool for obtaining evidence about interpersonal and communication skills, judgement, professional behaviour and clinical practice. All those working with a learner (including trainers, fellow learners and senior nurses/allied health professionals) are asked to rate the learner’s performance in various domains such as teamwork, communication and decision-making towards

the end of a training placement. Alternative terms are peer-review or 360º feedback.

National training surveys

Each year* JCPTD conducts surveys of postgraduate dental specialty trainees and trainers in the UK. The results help to guide our quality assurance work and are an important source of evidence about the quality of postgraduate dental education.

* Commencing in 2012
NHS Education for Scotland
National Health Service
NHS Commissioning Board
NHS Litigation Authority
Norm referencing
A method of establishing passing and failing trainees based on their performance in relation to each other, rather than to an established standard (criterion referencing). So for example, only the top n number or x% of trainees pass, irrespective of how strong or weak the cohort is as a whole. Norm referencing should be used only in certain special circumstances, for example where there is a limited number of posts available for successful trainees to move on to.
See training number.
Orange Guide
The predecessor guidance to the Gold Guide. It is the Guide to Specialist Registrar (SpR)Training and was last published in February 1998. Dental trainees appointed before October 2009 are normally managed according to this guidance unless they have chosen to move to the Dental Gold Guide provisions.
The Overseas Registration Examination of the GDC; this examination is based on the level required by a UK BDS qualification and The test is the main route by which International Dental Graduates demonstrate that they have the necessary skills and knowledge to practise medicine in the UK. It allows International Dental Graduates to be fully registered with the GDC
Objective Structured Clinical Examination - a multi-station clinical examination (typically having 15 to 25 stations). Candidates spend a designated time (usually 5 to 10 minutes) at each station demonstrating a clinical skill or competency at each. Stations frequently feature real or (more often) simulated patients. Artefacts such as radiographs, lab reports and photographs are also commonly used.

Out of Programme Training(OOPT/Research (OOPR)posts

Trainees with national training numbers (NTN) undertaking posts outside of their specialty programme must have prospective approval if the post is to count towards their CCST.

Out of Programme Education (OOPE)/Career Break (OOPC)

Trainees with an NTN can have a planned absence from an approved training programme at the discretion of their local PG Dean/Deanery. Such absences are not usually granted for longer than 12 months and do not count towards progress to the award of a CCST.

Areas or aspects of knowledge, skill or behaviour to be acquired through a period

of education or training.

Primary Care Trust, Primary Care Organisation
Peer- Review
See Multi-source feedback
Performance is the application of competence in real life. In the case of medicine/dentistry, it denotes what a trainee actually does in his/her encounter with patients, their relatives and carers, colleagues, team members, other members of staff etc.
Personal Development Plan (PDP)
A PDP is a prioritised list of educational needs and intended learning outcomes compiled by a trainee prior to meeting with the Educational Supervisor. The PDP is

an integral part of reflective practice and self-directed learning.

All clinicians should have a written PDP that informs their annual appraisal
The Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board of the GMC oversees the PLAB test. The test is the main route by which International Medical Graduates

demonstrate that they have the necessary skills and knowledge to practise medicine

in the UK.

A structured period of experience and learning in a particular specialty or area of practice in a health or social care setting.
The Postgraduate Medical Education and Training Board, merged with the GMC in

April 2010, was the competent authority covering postgraduate medical education and training between September 2005 and March 2010. It formed from the merger of 2 predecessor organisations the Specialist Training Authority (STA) and the Joint Committee for Postgraduate training in General Practice (JCPTGP)

This is a collection of evidence documenting a learner’s learning and achievements during their training. The learner takes responsibility for the portfolio’s creation

and maintenance. Portfolios have traditionally been paper-based but many training programmes have moved to electronic (web-based) portfolios. In UK postgraduate training, portfolios are used routinely for the Annual Review of Competence Progression (ARCP). The electronic version of such a portfolio is called an e-portfolio.

Primary dental qualification
In relation to UK graduates, a first dental degree awarded by a body or combination of bodies that is recognised by the GDC for this purpose (normally a University Dental School), Recently, the GDC recognised the LDSRCS examination of the Royal College of Surgeons of England for this purpose.
Primary medical qualification (PMQ)
In relation to UK graduates, a first medical degree awarded by a body or combination of bodies that is recognised by the GMC for this purpose (normally a University Medical School), or that was empowered to issue PMQs at the time the degree was awarded.
Problem based learning (PBL)
Problem-based learning (PBL) is an approach in which students learn about a subject in the context of complex, multifaceted, and realistic problems. The goals of PBL are to help the students develop flexible knowledge, effective problem-solving skills, self-directed learning, effective collaboration skills and intrinsic motivation
Professionalism is a generic concept that generally denotes a set of values comprising statutory professional obligations, formally agreed codes of (professional)conduct, and the informal expectations of patients, colleagues and the wider society in which the professional works. Key values include acting in the patients’ best interest and maintaining the standards of competence and knowledge expected of members of highly trained professions. These standards will include moral/ethical elements or principles such as integrity, probity, accountability, duty and honour. In addition to medical/dental knowledge and skills, dental professionals should present psychosocial and humanistic qualities such as caring, empathy, humility and compassion, social responsibility and sensitivity to people’s gender, sexual orientation, culture and beliefs.

A programme is a formal alignment or rotation of posts which together comprise a programme of training in a given specialty or subspecialty. A programme normally delivers the totality of the curriculum though linked stages in an entirety to CCST, The GDC approves programmes of training in all specialties, which are based on a particular geographical area (which could cover one or more deaneries). They are managed by a training programme director (TPD) or their equivalent. A programme is not a personal programme undertaken by a particular trainee.
(Training) Programme Director
A Programme Director (usually an experienced consultant or GP) who is selected and resourced to manage a postgraduate Foundation or Specialty including DFT training programme, which includes a number of trainees and their respective trainers, on behalf of the Deanery.
Reflective (sometimes reflexive) practice
This is a means by which trainees can develop a greater self-awareness about the nature and impact of their performance. This creates opportunities for professional growth and development. Maximum benefit from reflection are said to occur when the process involves interaction with others (for example, the Educational Supervisor) and when trainees value their own personal and intellectual growth. Adequate time for reflective thinking and writing aids the process. Evidence of reflective practice is a requirement of many portfolios.
Reliability expresses a trust in accuracy or the provision of the correct results. In the case of assessments, it is an expression of internal consistency and reproducibility. This quality is usually calculated statistically and reported as coefficient alpha (also known as Cronbach’s alpha), which is a measure of a test’s internal consistency. Generalisability theory is becoming the preferred alternative because, although it is considerably more complicated to calculate, it provides much richer information. Since it measures more dimensions, reliability coefficients resulting from generalisability theory tend to be lower than those calculated using Cronbach’s method. The lowest acceptable value of Cronbach’s alpha for assessments of learning is generally agreed to be 0.8. High-stakes examinations should aim for an alpha of 0.9. Alphas of less than 0.8 can be accepted for individual assessments for learning, provided that they are repeated on more than one occasion by more than one assessor.
There are some other important dimensions of reliability. These include:

  1. equivalence or alternate-form reliability is the degree to which alternate forms of the kind of assessment produce congruent results

    1. homogeneity is the extent to which various items in an assessment legitimately link together to measure a single characteristic

    2. inter-rater reliability refers to the extent to which different assessors give similar ratings for similar performances

    3. intra-rater reliability is concerned with the extent to which a single assessor would give similar marks for almost identical performance. (WPBA tweaked)

RITA (Record of In Training Assessment)
The predecessor arrangement to ARCP as described in the Orange Book. RITA provides a record of the annual review and therefore the SpR’s progress through their training programme. Successful completion of SpR training was marked by the award of a CCST.
Run-through specialty training

Trainees on run-through or coupled training progress through each stage of their specialty training automatically, provided that they have met all of the competency requirements. They complete a single programme of training and do not have to compete for places at different stages in the way those doing core and higher specialty training do. (See core specialty training and higher specialty training above).

Quality Assurance

The Quality Assurance Agency.
Quality Assurance of Basic Medical Education: the GMC’s former arrangements for

regulatory review of undergraduate medical education, now superseded by the Quality Improvement Framework.

Quality Assurance of the Foundation Programme
Quality Control
Quality Framework
Quality Improvement
Quality Improvement Framework
Quality Management
The regular demonstration by doctors and dentists that they are up to date, and fit to practise medicine.
Consideration of past events, achievements and performance. This may be either a formal or informal process and can be an integral part of appraisal, assessment and feedback.
Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority, the independent health and social care regulatory body for Northern Ireland.
SAC (Dental)
Specialty Advisory Committee; these committees are responsible for standard setting and setting specialty curricula (approved by the GDC) for the 13 dental Specialties
Short Answer Questions.
Single Best Answer.
Self-directed learning
A process in which learners are responsible for organising and managing their own learning activities and needs.
Strategic Health Authority
Skill is the ability to perform a task to at least a competent level. A skill can be gained through regular practice (experience) combined with reflective practice (self assessment/insight) and constructive feedback.
Specialist Register (GMC)

The Specialist Register lists all doctors who are eligible to be considered for appointment as consultants in the NHS.

Specialist Register (GDC)

The Specialist Register lists all doctors who are eligible to be considered for appointment as specialists in primary cares settings or consultants in the NHS.


Specialties are areas of medicine or dentistry that require particular sets of knowledge, skills and experience, for example Paediatric Dentistry is a specialty focusing on the dental care of children. Once a dentist has completed a broad based training such as Dental Foundation training, they can apply for training in a particular specialty. There are currently 13 specialties approved by the GDC.

Specialty trainee

A doctor or dentist on a postgraduate specialty training programme appointed since August 2007 (in medicine) and October 2009 (dentistry) or transferred from a specialist training programme.

Standard deviation
Standard deviation is a widely used measure of variability, showing how much variation or dispersion there is from the average (mean) or expected value. A low standard deviation indicates that the data points tend to be very close to the mean, whereas high standard deviation indicates that the data points are spread out over a large range of values. The standard deviation is one component of the equation to calculate the Standard Error of Measurement
Standard Error of Measurement (SEM)
Calculated from Cronbach’s alpha and the standard deviation of a test (SEM = SD √ (1 – alpha)), the SEM gives the confidence intervals for marks awarded to trainees: 1 SEM = a confidence interval of 68%; 2 SEMs = 95%; 3 SEMs = 99%. In other words, 68% of the time a candidate’s ‘true’ mark (the appropriate mark for the candidate) would be within ± 1 SEM of the mark they obtained in the test - or, to put it the other way, there is about a 1 in 3 chance that their exam mark was not even within 1 SEM of their ‘true’ mark. This is important in identifying borderline trainees. In high stakes examinations, borderline trainees would be those within 2 or even 3 SEMs of the pass mark.

  1. Standards are a means of describing the quality that individuals or organisations involved in the delivery of education and training are expected to meet. The performance of organisations can be assessed for this level of quality; the standards must be met. In Tomorrow’s Doctors and The New Doctor, there are three levels of expectation mandated by the GMC: domains (the most general), standards (in the middle) and requirements (the most specific). Domains, standards and requirements relate to the delivery of teaching, learning and assessment as opposed to outcomes which relate to the expectations on learners at a threshold such as graduation.

  2. The standard is the required level of performance in a pass/fail examination. There are various methods of ‘standard setting’ in this sense. (made up)

  3. A competence standard in relation to the Equality Act is an academic, medical, or other standard applied by or on behalf of an education provider for the purpose of determining whether or not a person has a particular level of competence or ability. Competence standards apply to all parts of a course including entry and must be reviewed from a disability discrimination perspective. Reasonable adjustments do not have to be made to competence standards but they do have to be made to the way that the standards are assessed or performed.

  1. The GMC has a Standards and Ethics section which publishes professional guidance such as Good medical practice which sets out the principles and values on which good practice is founded.

Summative assessment
See Assessment of learning
Supervised Learning Event (SLE)
SLEs provide the context for assessment for learning using WPBA tools. The key element is reflection based on structured feedback. The individual SLE will not be scored and individual outcomes will not determine decisions for training progression although engagement with this element of learning and using the portfolio as a whole will be relevant.
A syllabus is a list, or some other kind of summary description, of course contents; or topics that might be tested in examinations. In modern medical education, a detailed curriculum is the document of choice and the syllabus would not be regarded as an adequate substitute for a curriculum, although one might be included as an appendix.
A trainee is any doctor or dentist participating in an educationally approved postgraduate medical or dental training programme and holding a funded post (Foundation Programme or Specialty Training). So a student is not a trainee although more loosely may be said to be receiving training or learning from a trainer
A trainer is a more experienced clinician who provides training and educational support for a learner. Trainers include Clinical Supervisors and Educational Supervisors. Trainers should be prepared for their role and understand teaching and assessment methods and giving constructive feedback
This is the ongoing, workplace based process by which experience is obtained, constructive feedback provided and learning outcomes achieved.
(National) Training Number
This is the reference number allocated by the postgraduate deanery to trainees in specialty training programmes. Each trainee is allocated a single training number. National Training Number (NTN) is the number allocated by the postgraduate deanery to trainees in specialty training programmes which, subject to satisfactory progress, have an end point of the award of a CCST
Training Programme Directors (TPDs)
Training programmes are led by TPDs (or their equivalent). TPDs have responsibility for managing specialty training programmes.
Triangulation is the principle, particularly important in WPBA, that whenever possible evidence of progress, attainment or difficulties should be obtained from more than one assessor, on more than one occasion, and if possible using more than one assessment method.
United Kingdom Foundation Programme Office for medical foundation training programmes
In the case of assessment, validity refers to the degree to which a measurement instrument truly measures what it is supposed to measure. It is concerned with whether the right things are being assessed, in the right way, and with a positive influence of learning. There are many different dimensions of validity including:

  1. Content validity. An assessment has content validity if the components reflect the abilities (knowledge, skills or behaviours) it is designed to measure.

  2. Face validity. This is related to content validity. Face validity can be described from the perspective of an interested lay observer. If they feel that the right things are being assessed in the right way, then the assessment has good face validity.

  3. Construct validity. The extent to which the assessment, and the individual components of the assessment, tests the professional constructs on which they are based. For instance, an assessment has construct validity if senior trainees achieve higher scores than junior trainees.

  4. Predictive validity. This refers to the degree to which an assessment predicts expected outcomes. For example, a measure of attitudes (behaviour) toward preventive care should correlate significantly with preventive care behaviours.

  5. Consequential validity (educational impact). This refers to the effect that an assessment has on learning, and in particular on what trainees learn and how they learn it. For example, they might omit certain aspects of a syllabus because they do not expect to be assessed on them, or they might commit large bodies of factual knowledge to memory without really understanding it in order to pass a test of factual recall, and then forget it soon afterwards. Both these behaviours would indicate that the assessment has poor educational impact because both lead to poor learning behaviours. (However, educational impact is sometimes presented as a criterion separate from ‘validity’ more narrowly defined.)

Welsh Assembly Government
Working Time Regulations (WTR)

Regulations implemented following the European Working Time Directive (2003). These prevent employees from working more than 48 hours a week, averaged over a 17 week period.

Workplace Based Assessment (WPBA)
WPBA is the assessment of competence based on what a learner actually does in the workplace. The main aim of WPBA is to aid learning (Assessment for learning) by providing learners with constructive feedback. Although the principal role of each assessment is for learning, results from a collection of WPBA assessments are used in postgraduate training to inform the ARCP.

March 2012

(Based on the GMC’s Glossary of medical education and training accessible here )

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