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National Selection System for General Practice Training

Introduction | Presentation of the Research Evidence


This page is intended to serve as a web-based resource for accessing key research evidence regarding the GP selection process which has successfully completed several years of national recruitment since 2006. Whilst not exhaustive, the research evidence presented below outlines the development of the GP selection system and indicates how it follows best practice.

You may also wish to read the following article by Simon Plint and Fiona Patterson: 'Identifying critical success factors for designing selection processes into postgraduate specialty training' (pdf format - 152kb)

History of the national GP selection system

Prior to the development of the national GP selection system, research showed that various selection methods were applied across different deaneries which lacked standardisation. Directors of Postgraduate GP Education were therefore given responsibility for developing a selection and training system that ensured the process of recruitment demonstrates fair and open competition, and observes best practice in providing equal opportunities for all applicants*. Subsequently, a collective commitment was made to work towards standardisation of recruitment methods across deaneries which resulted in the national process.

The national GP selection system

In keeping with best practice selection from other occupations, a multi method job analysis was conducted by Professor Fiona Patterson (Work Psychology Group) and colleagues in 2000. A thorough job analysis determines the relevant knowledge, skills, abilities and attitudes associated with competent performance in a job role and informs the design of selection methods which are accurate (reliable), relevant (valid), objective and standardised. Currently, the GP selection process uses national machine markable (MMT) short-listing tests, together with selection centre methodology, which has been developed incrementally over seven years. The development and successful implementation of the MMTs, with clinical problem-solving and situational judgement components, has been a significant innovation in postgraduate specialty selection.

Importance of validation studies

Selection processes face unprecedented scrutiny over the next few years in the UK and general practice has undertaken a long-term validation of its selection methods to ensure accuracy, fairness and cost effectiveness. The following research provides a summary of evidence that shows the national GP selection system is reliable, valid and fair. Evaluation from the candidate’s perspective (over N=6,000 each year) consistently demonstrates that applicants have confidence in the relevance and fairness of the process.

* NHS Executive. (2000) Enhanced management arrangements for general practice vocational training. 1999/230 ed,

Presentation of the research evidence



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The National Recruitment Office for General Practice Training


The page above was last updated on Wednesday December 01, 2010

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