Article Text

Download PDFPDF
The Royal Surgical Colleges’ ingenious adaptation during the COVID-19 pandemic kept surgeons training and progressing
  1. Rebecca Charlene Williams1,2,
  2. Stuart Enoch1
  1. 1 Department of Postgraduate Surgical Education, Doctors Academy Group, Cardiff, UK
  2. 2 Department of Education, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Rebecca Charlene Williams, Doctors Academy Group, Cardiff CF14 3JR, UK; rebecca.williams2{at}

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant disruption across the globe. That it has had a profound impact on the traditional structure of undergraduate and postgraduate medical education in the UK is of particular concern. While final year medical students were propelled to graduate early in 2020 to assist in hospitals, doctors were redeployed to different specialties and wards to aid their colleagues. Many accepted duties that exceeded their normal day-to-day roles, relinquishing their own training and learning to, rightly, support the National Health Service (NHS).

Despite the pandemic, junior doctors (ranging from newly qualified Foundation Year Doctors to Senior Registrars with around 10 years of experience) must continue to be trained. They need to sit mandatory examinations to progress to the next stage of their career. This has required the previously unthinkable creation and swift implementation of novel methods of assessment, something that the four Royal Surgical Colleges in the UK and Ireland have successfully executed in order to ensure that the prerogative of surgical trainees to sit the Membership of the Royal College of Surgeons (MRCS) examinations has not been hindered.

The intercollegiate MRCS examination is a high-stakes postgraduate examination which permits the successful candidate membership to one of the four Royal Surgical Colleges in the UK and Ireland. It is a prerequisite for any early surgical trainee (Foundation Year Doctor or Core Surgical Trainee) who wishes to continue surgical training since it determines whether he or she possesses the necessary skills, knowledge and attributes to enter a six-year higher surgical training programme, successful completion of which results in a Certificate of Completion of Training and appointment as a consultant.

A detailed description of the content of the MRCS examination is offered by Brennan and Sherman.1 As a brief overview, the examination consists of two parts: Part A …

View Full Text


  • Contributors RCW and SE contributed to the conception of the work. RCW drafted the work, and SE revised it critically for important intellectual content. RCW and SE have provided final approval for the work to be published. RCW and SE agree to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

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