A national framework for the assessment of the Pre-Registration House Officer year, when newly qualified doctors start work in hospitals, should be introduced to ensure the competence of young medics.
A conference of the Association for the Study of Medical Education (ASME) has called for formal assessment of the year, the final phase of medical training for which universities have responsibility.
ASME's call follows the publication earlier this year by the General Medical Council of The New Doctor, a report recommending major reforms to the PRHO year. The New Doctor called for greater structure but, according to Graham Buckley, honorary secretary of ASME, fell short of demanding a formal national assessment of a medic's competence at the end of the year.
Dr Buckley said: "New Doctors will mean more supervision and appraisal. But what is significant about the ASME conference is the call for a much harder edge nationally agreed framework for assessment. Under appraisal it's not possible to fail. Under assessment you can be failed." He added that at present almost all PRHOs who complete the year are deemed satisfactory and receive GMC registration.
ASME also called for the training of hospital academics and NHS consultants in assessment and appraisal skills, so they are better equipped to provide vital feedback to young doctors.
The meeting also demanded that medical students shadow a PRHO as a normal part of their undergraduate degree. "It is a way of introducing students to work," said Dr Buckley.