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Evaluating the recruitment process into UK anaesthesia core training: a national data linkage study of doctors’ performance at selection and subsequent postgraduate training
  1. Margaret Aslet1,
  2. Lewis W Paton1,
  3. Thomas Gale2,
  4. Paul A Tiffin1,3
  1. 1 Department of Health Sciences, University of York, York, North Yorkshire, UK
  2. 2 Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Plymouth, Plymouth, Devon, UK
  3. 3 Health Professions Education Unit, Hull York Medical School, York, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Paul A Tiffin, Department of Health Sciences, University of York, York, North Yorkshire, YO10 5DD, UK; paul.tiffin{at}


Purpose of the study To explore which factors increase the likelihood of being deemed appointable to core anaesthesia training in the UK and whether those factors subsequently predict performance in postgraduate training.

Study design Observational study linking UK medical specialty recruitment data with postgraduate educational performance, as measured by Annual Review of Competence Progression (ARCP) outcomes. Data were available for 2782 trainee doctors recruited to anaesthesia core training from 2012 to 2016 with at least one subsequent ARCP outcome.

Results Both higher interview and shortlisting scores were independent and statistically significant (p≤0.001) predictors of more satisfactory ARCP outcomes, even after controlling for the influence of postgraduate exam failure. It was noted that a number of background variables (eg, age at application) were independently associated with the odds of being deemed appointable at recruitment. Of these, increasing age and experience were also negative predictors of subsequent ARCP rating. These influences became statistically non-significant once ARCP outcomes associated with exam failure were excluded.

Conclusions The predictors of ‘appointability’ largely also predict subsequent performance in postgraduate training, as indicated by ARCP ratings. This provides evidence for the validity of the selection process. Our results also suggest that greater weight could be applied to shortlisting scores within the overall process of ranking applicants for posts.

  • anaesthetics
  • medical education & training
  • education & training (see medical education & training)
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  • Contributors MA led the writing of the manuscript and data interpretation and contributed to the data analysis. LP led the data analysis, produced the data visualisations and contributed to data interpretation and drafting and appraising the manuscript. TG contributed to the study design, editing and appraising the content of the manuscript. PT led the study design and supervision of the project and contributed to writing, editing and appraising the content of the manuscript.

  • Funding PT is supported in his research by a National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Career Development Fellowship grant (grant number CDF-2015-08-11). This paper presents independent research partly funded by the NIHR. The views expressed are those of the authors and are not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care.

  • Competing interests PT has previously received research funding from the Economic and Social Research Council, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the Department of Health for England, the UKCAT Board and the General Medical Council. TG has been a member of the RCOA Recruitment Committee since 2010 and Chair of the Committee since 2015. He has previously been awarded funding from the Department of Health and Social Care to develop and evaluate selection methods for anaesthesia training.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval The study relied on the analysis of deidentified routinely collected data analysed within a ‘safe haven’ environment. This was confirmed in writing by the chair of the University of York Department of Health Sciences Ethics Committee.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement The data and associated Stata syntax used to manage and analyse the data may be made available from the General Medical Council on request within a safe haven environment on an individual basis should a sufficient justification be provided.

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