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We’re educating physicians and supporting them to fulfil their potential. Here are some highlights of our work in 2021.

Despite the enduring impact of COVID-19 on our activities, we continued to deliver examinations as well as excellent teaching and training opportunities, conferences and CPD. We worked hard to ensure that clinicians taking crucial exams experienced the least disruption possible, taking innovative steps to move courses and exams online and adding extra capacity.

Our work in numbers

Our key achievements

Supporting physicians

Our year began with a fully virtual annual conference in January. With over 1,200 delegates, Medicine 2021 offered fantastic learning opportunities and was our largest and most successful annual conference to date. Key speakers included Professor Chris Whitty and Sir Michael Marmot.

Our medical streaming service RCP Player hosted over 80 stimulating and varied events, including the first virtual ‘Call the medical registrar’ conference, a specialty careers showcase, acute medicine webinars and forums to support new consultants.

We supported doctors with their continuing professional development (CPD), delivering workshops in virtual classrooms as well as COVID-safe face-to-face teaching in both London and Liverpool. Over 4,000 physicians attended our workshops, postgraduate courses and unique leadership initiatives such as the Emerging Women Leaders and Chief Registrar programmes. Many enjoyed the pioneering new technology at our Wolfson Virtual Theatre in The Spine, designed to support multiple learners.

RCP OnlineEd, our platform for online learning, was accessed over 6,300 times. And our RCP Medicine podcasts went from strength to strength with over 200,000 downloads in 2021 – the series on health inequalities proving particularly popular. 

Our first virtual Faculty of Physician Associates (FPA) conference took place in November with over 800 registered delegates. We created exclusive member-only resources to support PA career journeys and developed a new online revision aid – the PA question bank is due to launch in 2022 with hundreds of exam practice questions.

Assessment and exams 

Following exam cancellations early in the year, the RCP Assessment Unit, which runs physician associate national examinations as well as assessments for specialty diplomas and MRCP(UK) PACES, restarted exams in March 2021 and assessed more than 3,500 candidates throughout the year. In June, new software allowed us to introduce online exams which quickly became the norm for all our knowledge-based assessments.

Through our work with the Federation of Royal Colleges of Physicians, we moved all MRCP(UK) part 1 and part 2 written exams online in the UK and some international centres. Nearly 8,500 candidates sat them in 2021. We developed the framework for a new PACES exam model adapted for the pandemic situation and delivered by the three royal colleges of physicians to over 2,500 UK candidates.

Curriculum development

More people than ever have multiple health conditions due to the increasingly older population in the UK. In order to focus on the broader training and generalist skills required to care for this group of patients, we worked with the JRCPTB on a multi-year project to integrate internal medicine capabilities into the physician specialty curricula and create a new standalone internal medicine curriculum (stage 2). The new curricula have been approved by the GMC and will be implemented in 2022.

We supported development of the national curriculum and national licensing examinations for PAs after the profession becomes statutorily regulated.

We were commissioned by Health Education England to develop national curricula for advanced clinical practitioners, initially in three specialties with work continuing in 2022.

On behalf of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AoMRC) and working in partnership with the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) we are developing a Clinician Researcher Credentials Framework. We launched pilot versions of the core research practice element in 2021.

Our international work

Due to COVID-19, most of our international workshops and development activities moved online in 2021. We delivered 19 educational events for RCP members and fellows outside of the UK, attracting over 4,800 participants.

We ran several partnership webinars to provide dedicated COVID-related medical education to colleagues across South Asia, expanded our faculty development work with the Swiss Medical Institute and developed leadership training for women in developing countries with a pilot programme planned for 2022.

Our new Global strategy outlines support for our international members and fellows in 119 countries and maps out plans to grow and diversify our membership through to 2024. We supported over 1,500 international medical graduates in their application to experience UK training. The Medical Training Initiative facilitates visa and GMC registration while providing excellent candidates to the NHS workforce.

A new RCP-Iraq membership network led by RCP international adviser Dr Hilal Al-Saffar offers a tailored medical education course and research course to address local needs. The network has driven an eightfold increase in RCP membership in Iraq.

Supporting recruitment 

More than 800 consultant job descriptions were approved by RCP regional advisers with over 50% benefiting from recommendations made in an RCP review. RCP representatives helped to appoint to 475 consultant, honorary consultant and staff, associate specialist and specialty (SAS) doctor posts.

Over 400 RCP members completed our newly launched interview skills training course, with 77% of an eligible 248 members registered to act as RCP representatives on consultant interview panels.

We developed guidance and support to help with the recruitment of SAS doctors into the new specialist doctor grade, training 20 SAS assessors to represent the RCP on interview panels.