Summary: Dr Neel Sharma discusses national licensing exams in the United Kingdom. Description:
Recent news has highlighted the case for a National Licensing Examination (NLE) by the General Medical Council in the UK. Currently medical students in the UK do not all sit the same exam. The Medical Schools Council Assessment Alliance comes close to this potential with several partner schools delivering the same SBA/ EMQ paper. The OSCE however is as yet not part of this ruling. Of course all school standards are ultimately set by the GMC under the umbrella of Tomorrow's Doctors yet speaking to some colleagues their weightage on certain aspects seems to differ, case in point, the basic sciences.

As postgraduates in the UK, we are all required to undertake the same membership exam depending on specialty choice, with final exit exams depending on sub specialty. During my time in Hong Kong and Singapore thus far, the UK membership exams are also taken by postgraduates as well as their respective college exams with Singapore making a recent switch to the US style residency programme. From an undergraduate perspective in the US, the USMLE ensures a uniform standard of medical practice. And it appears the UK is moving towards the same goal. Currently all exiting UK students are expected to undertake the situational judgement test and prescribing safety assessment regardless of medical school.

My personal take on a NLE is one of positivity. Ensuring graduates from UK medical schools can demonstrate the same standard in an objective fashion can only be a good thing for patient care and overall quality improvement. But what does this mean from a medical school perspective? Would students feel less inclined to apply to higher ranking schools and would such schools feel uneasy about losing their branding?

I welcome readers' thoughts..