On Tuesday, Broad Left student activists from all over the country attended the General Medical Council-Medical Schools Council meeting about the UK Medical Licensing Assessment (UKMLA), in order to hear an update on and ask questions about the important issues and concerns we have about the upcoming changes.
The day was aiming to demystify the exam and allow students a chance to speak. There was some more transparency around the assessment, but unfortunately, we are still a long way from total understanding and are hopeful for more open, transparent and informative communication. The mood of the room became progressively more anxious, confused and dissatisfied with the answers that the GMC were giving. As the Q&A session continued, students in the audience appeared increasingly aware that the plans in their current format are full of inconsistencies- the aim of certifying a minimum common standard is moot if exam conditions, resit opportunities and their integration into local finals are all carried out differently. The GMC seems happy to implement the exam but keen to wash its hands of the logistics of implementation and the impact it may have on medical students’ wellbeing.
The BMA has been feeding back to the GMC for the past few years on the development of the exam from a position of opposition; our union is against the imposition of the UKMLA. We believe the exam is unnecessary, adds extra burden to our members and have concerns over the resit policy, the impact on equality groups, and the financial disadvantage the exam and preparation for it will put on some students, particularly those who have to travel.
Despite these concerns, we have already won significant concessions: the exam will not be paid for by medical students, we made the GMC scrap their plans to centralise the exam regionally and we believe that we have recently secured the guarantee of free revision materials and practice software.
We in the BMA have the option of taking action to boycott or disrupt implementation if our concerns aren’t addressed and our members agree. This position was advocated for and won at Medical Student Conference by many students including the Broad Left. In the first instance, however, we have decided to engage with the GMC and Medical Schools Council initially to ensure the voices of medical students are considered and the exam’s negative impacts are as small as possible.
The Student Left and our colleagues in the BMA Medical Student Committee will continue to push for the best possible outcome for our members, and we will not shy away from action if necessary to achieve that.
UKMLA Main Points:
- The UKMLA will be a requirement for students graduating from 2023 onwards
- The UKMLA will come in two parts:
- An Applied Knowledge Test (AKT)
- Clinical and Professional Skills Assessment
- 2021 – Pilot Exam
- 2022 – First sitting of the examination (unsure if this will count)
- 2023 – Full UKMLA implementation
- Will only have SBA’s (short answer questions) initially
- 150-200 questions long
- Between 1-2 Papers
- Will be PASS/FAIL
- Will be 4 dates to sit this exam per year (will be up to the medical school)
- Clinical and Professional Skills Assessment:
- This will involve adjustments to clinical exams that are already running
- Resit policy will be determined via the university
- GMC would discourage ranking – unsure how universities would use the data
- Will be alongside normal medical finals (for now)
- Reasonable adjustments
- Appeals Process
See the BMA blog on the UKMLA here