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Int'l Medical Education Standards Not Equivalent to U.K. Standards

Studies show lower performance on MRCP, ARCP for international medical graduates passing PLAB exams

FRIDAY, April 18, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- International medical graduates passing the Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board (PLAB) of the General Medical Council (GMC) have lower performance on MRCP(UK) (Membership of the Royal Colleges of Physicians) and MRCGP (Membership of the Royal College of General Practitioners) and on annual review of competence progression (ARCP) examinations, according to two studies published online April 17 in BMJ.

Ian Christopher McManus, M.D., Ph.D., from University College London, and Richard Wakeford, C.Psychol., from the University of Cambridge, both in the United Kingdom, linked PLAB GMC performance data with data on performance of PLAB graduates and U.K. graduates at the MRCP(UK) and MRCGP examinations. The researchers found that PLAB1 marks were a valid predictor of parts 1 and 2 MRCP(UK) and MRCGP AKT (Applied Knowledge Test). Compared with U.K. graduates, PLAB graduates had significantly lower MRCP(UK) and MRCGP assessments, and were more likely to fail assessments and to make slower progress.

Paul A. Tiffin, M.D., M.B.B.S., from Durham University in the United Kingdom, and colleagues linked ARCP outcome data with PLAB test performance. Participants included 53,436 U.K.-based trainee doctors, of whom 42,017 were U.K. medical graduates and 11,419 were international medical graduates. The researchers found that, compared with U.K. graduates, international medical graduates were more likely to obtain a less satisfactory outcome at ARCP, even after adjustment for confounding variables (odds ratio, 1.63). ARCP outcomes did not differ significantly for U.K. graduates and international medical graduates who scored in the highest twelfth on part 1 of the PLAB.

"These findings suggest that the PLAB test used for registration of international medical graduates is not generally equivalent to the requirements for U.K. graduates," Tiffin and colleagues write.

Both authors from the McManus study disclosed ties to the GMC. The Tiffin study was funded by the GMC.

Full Text - McManus and Wakeford
Full Text - Tiffin
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