Disorganized junior doctors fail the MRCP (UK)

Med Teach. 2006 Feb;28(1):e40-2. doi: 10.1080/01421590600568421.


Career progression during undergraduate and early postgraduate years is currently determined by successfully passing examinations. Both academic factors (secondary school examination results, learning style and training opportunities) and non-academic factors (maturity, ethnic origin, gender and motivation) have been identified as predicting examination outcome. Few studies have examined organization skills. Disorganized medical students are more likely to perform poorly in end-of-year examinations but this observation has not been examined in junior doctors. This study asked whether organization skills relate to examination outcome amongst junior doctors taking the clinical Part II examination for the Membership of the Royal College of Physicians (Practical Assessment of Clinical Examination Skills). The study was conducted prospectively at four consecutive clinical courses that provided clinical teaching and practice to prepare trainees for the examination. Arrival time at registration for the course was the chosen surrogate for organization skills. Trainees were advised that they should arrive promptly at 8.00 a.m. for registration and it was explained that the course would start at 8.30 a.m. Recorded arrival times were compared with the pass lists published by the Royal College of Physicians. The mean arrival time was 8.17 a.m. A total of 81 doctors (53.3%) passed the examination with a mean arrival time of 8.14 a.m. However, 71 doctors failed the exam and arrived, on average, six minutes later than doctors who passed (p?=?0.006). Better-prepared junior doctors were more likely to pass the final examination. Arriving on time represents a composite of several skills involved in the planning of appropriate travel arrangements and is therefore a valid marker of organization skills and preparation. This novel study has shown that good time-keeping skills are positively associated with examination outcome.

MeSH terms

  • Appointments and Schedules
  • Career Mobility*
  • Curriculum
  • Education, Medical, Graduate / statistics & numerical data*
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate / statistics & numerical data*
  • Educational Measurement / statistics & numerical data*
  • Efficiency
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Social Behavior
  • Task Performance and Analysis
  • Time Management*
  • United Kingdom