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The MRCGP RCA (Recorded Consultation Assessment): What it is and How to Pass

If you are preparing for RCA (Recorded Consultation Assessment) this blog is for you!

For our comprehensive RCA Gold Pass Package click here.

For our Live Virtual RCA Immersion Course click here.

For our RCA-90 Online Course click here.

What is covered in this blog:

– What is the RCA?
– How do I take it?
– Which cases should I submit?
– How is it marked?
– When do I get results?
– How we can help you pass

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What is it?

The RCA is the temporary replacement for the CSA (clinical skills assessment) – one of the three components of the MRCGP qualification needed to complete GP training in the UK. It aims to test various aspects of General Practice through the form of submitted recorded consultations. Areas tested include clinical, practical, communication and professional skills related to General Practice.

How do I take it?

Virtual RCA CourseIt requires submission of 13 real-life consultations from within your normal working environment.

Consultations can be face-to-face, video or telephone consults and can be recorded from within a Practice or from your own home – depending on how you are currently working.

Chosen cases are submitted to a central platform created by Fourteen Fish and marked by examiners. A different examiner will examine each case.

Cases should be continuous with no breaks or edits. Only the first 10 minutes of the consultation recording (minus time for consent) will be marked.

What cases should I submit?

The aim should be to submit cases demonstrating as much breadth of the curriculum as possible, with no more than two cases from a single curriculum area. It is suggested to aim for new presentations (as opposed to follow-ups), choosing cases that demonstrate the level of an ST3 GP trainee. The RCGP have some mandatory cases:

– A case involving a Younger Person (16 years or younger)
– A case involving an Older Adult (65 years and above)
– A case including a Mental Health concern
– A Long-term Condition eg cancer, multi-morbidity or disability 
– A case of Unscheduled or Urgent Care
– A case involving Maternal or Reproductive Health
– Minimum of 2 cases demonstrating examination

Watch this video for our quick guide to mandatory case selection: https://youtu.be/A0sNcmrGnVI

There is guidance on gaining consent on the RCGP website. You would need to a) gain consent before the consultation begins, as well as b) confirm after the as well.

Your educational supervisor will need to verify that it is all your own work prior to submission.

How is it marked?

The RCA tests the same core areas as the CSA, taken from the RCGP Curriculum, specifically:

– Knowing yourself and relating to others
– Applying clinical skill and knowledge
– Managing couples and long-term care
– Caring for the whole person and wider community

Each case is marked across three domains, with each domain gaining a CLEAR PASS, PASS, FAIL or CLEAR FAIL outcome. The three domains are:

– Data gathering.
– Clinical management.
– Interpersonal skills.

RCA-90 Online CourseData gathering assesses your ability to first gather, and then utilise data from various sources. These include relevant history taking and examination skills, as well as interpretation of results and clinical letters. Data gathering is not restricted to clinical issues – understanding the patient’s thoughts, as well as impact on their psychosocial life is also part of understanding key issues of the case. Being efficient, relevant and systematic is important as time can quickly add up – leaving enough time for management is key to using the data effectively.

Clinical management assesses your ability to use the data that you have elicited, both in terms of managing the clinical problem AS WELL AS managing the situation as a whole. Clinical decision-making, managing patient expectations, health promotion and effective use of resources may feature here.

Interpersonal skills run throughout the ten-minute consultation, assessing your ability to communicate effectively and with a patient-centered approach. It is not simply ‘being nice to the patient’ – adapting techniques for different situations is key – done so in a fluid, non-rehearsed way. It also focuses on areas such as ethics, equality and diversity, explanations and attitude.

I have found that trainees often worry too much about the mark scheme, sometimes leading to confusion when performing. Having a basic idea of the mark breakdown is good, but focusing on a clear, efficient consultation will usually mean all areas are adequately covered.

When do I hear my results?

Your results alongside formative feedback will be available on your e-Portfolio under the RCA section.

How we can help you pass RCA?

There are many ways that we can help for RCA – focused on multiple different leaning styles. Many choose to use one, some use several – we recognise that everyone’s needs are completely different. Below are some examples of what we offer. If you are looking at maximising your chances then our RCA Gold Pass Package has a discounted combination of all of the above.

1) Our Flagship Virtual Immersion RCA Course. 20 intense role-plays over a 9.5-hour day, designed to expose you to those challenging real-life situations that many struggle with, including the multiple-agenda presentation, the talkative patient, shared-decision making etc. The focus is maximising your 10 minutes to ensure a greater score in each case you do. We run all three formats of case – face-to-face, video consultations and telephone consultations – you only practice cases based on what you are doing on a day-to-day basis to maximise impact. Small numbers to ensure highly personalised feedback, held virtually every month. Full details of coverage here.

2) Our RCA-90 Online Course. 90 RCA-type consultations broken down in an intense 6+ hour online training course. I break down the most common presentations, situations and scenarios in terms of data gathering, interpersonal and management. Includes key red flags, up-to-date guidelines, relevant psychosocial links as well as options for shared management. Watch-back, pause and rewind as many times as you like throughout a 1, 3, 6 or 12 month subscription option. Full details of coverage here

3) Our CSA On-the-Go Audiobook Course. 5 hours of pure audio teaching, breaking down 100 core scenarios, focusing on all 3 key elements – data gathering, interpersonal and clinical management – including all key red flags and guidelines. Designed to download to your phone or tablet, to listen to online or offline, with no expiry. Increase your efficiency whilst listening and preparing whilst commuting or out and about. All future updated versions come free. Listen to a free sample here.

how to explain audiobook cover4) Our Medical ‘How to Explain’ Audiobook Course. 220+ medical conditions, diagnoses, tests and treatments explained in there most simple terms, ideal to use in your RCA consults. Improve the quality of your cases by breaking down your explanations into patient-friendly language. Also designed to download to your phone or tablet, to listen to online or offline, with no expiry. Increase your efficiency whilst listening and preparing whilst commuting or out and about. All future updated versions come free. Listen to a free sample here.

7) #aroraDaily emails – our free daily evening revision emails including a quick clinical scenario and a short video teaching tutorial – designed to make preparation more efficient and ticking over everyday: http://eepurl.com/duAwXr

8) Free teaching on Social Media. We have 400+ RCA-type teaching videos on our YouTube channel, carry out lots of teaching via our main GP Training Facebook Support group and also teach daily through image on Instagram (@dr_aman_arora) and on Twitter (@aman999arora).

On a final positive note

Most trainees will get through RCA… you will get through RCA! It will however take a little planning and concerted effort.

If you start early, you’re efficient in your consultations and don’t rely on just one method of preparation, you have every chance of flying through this assessment.

Good luck and contact me for any queries that you may have 🙂

#CanPassWillPass

Dr. Aman Arora

Dr. Aman Arora

GP and full time medical educator

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Dr. Aman Arora

About Dr. Aman Arora

GP and full time medical educator

Former GPVTS Programme Director

Former NHS GP Appraiser

Former GMC PLAB 2 Examiner

Fellow of Royal College of GPs (FRCGP)

Former HEEWM Advanced AKT Trainer

Running Exam Prep courses for 10 years

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