The case for a national examination
Medical education should, at least in theory, be of an equal standard across medical schools. In the United Kingdom, it falls to the General Medical Council to maintain this standard. Maintaining a similar level of knowledge at the 32 medical schools is a challenging task. It is achieved through annual self assessment carried out by the university and impromptu inspections by the GMC.1 The GMC’s Tomorrow’s Doctors outlines the core knowledge that any medical school must provide; it ensures that all junior doctors meet the criteria needed for qualification.
These guidelines, however, stop short of being too prescriptive. This encourages diversity among medical schools, permitting some universities to take a more traditional approach with a lecture based format, while others incorporate more modern problem based learning methods.
Diversity is not a desirable characteristic, however. Assessment of a student’s knowledge should be as consistent as possible. The GMC is aware of