Spotlight on... education

We're sharing what education plans we’re working on at the moment. Plus, we'll set out the steps to shaping regulated education for PAs and AAs.

Quality assurance

We’re part way through the process of quality assuring PA and AA courses. We want to do this before regulation begins. The process has many steps:

1. Self- assessment: February – May 2021

Course providers complete a quality assurance (QA) self-assessment questionnaire. We'll ask them how they could show that they meet the standards for managing and delivering education as set out in Promoting Excellence: standards for medical education and training where these are relevant to PA and AA courses. We’re on hand to answer their questions.

2. Triangulation and gap analysis: May – July 2021

We’ll look at the questionnaire answers and combine them with other information we have. This could be pass rates in the PA national exam or intelligence from organisations like Health Education England. This creates a picture of the education landscape as it stands.

3. Quality activities: August – December 2021

We’ll take a sample of course providers and work with them to discuss follow-up activities. This might include a visit where we meet staff, teachers and students from the course. On visits we can talk in detail about how the course is managed and delivered. From this we can think how to best check that our standards are being met.

4. Feedback: September – December 2021

Running alongside the quality activities, all course providers will receive feedback from us. This will be written and include the offer of a meeting if they’d like further discussion.

Curricula development

 In autumn 2021, we’ll be seeking feedback on the draft education framework for MAPs. We’ll ask course providers to make sure that any students joining from September 2023 follow a course aligned to this framework. It’s an important part of regulation.

The framework includes an overarching learning outcomes document, and an outcomes-based curriculum for each profession. The overarching document will ensure consistency, where it's appropriate, between the curricula. This will be especially relevant across professional capabilities such as teaching and leadership. Each curriculum will set out the profession-specific capabilities we'll expect students to learn.

Course providers will use the curriculum as a guide when designing their course. This would cover the syllabus and any assessments. We’ll check that they’ve done this appropriately through our quality assurance activities.

Prescribing

The decision on when and how to extend prescribing responsibilities to PAs and AAs is not for the GMC. We are contributing to a DHSC working group on the topic alongside the FPA, AAA and others. We’ve been advising on some of the issues e.g. what specific education framework needs to be in place. We understand that statutory regulation is an essential step in the process. There isn’t a timescale for the implementation of prescribing yet. We know it will need its own consultation and legislation.

If you have any questions or comments about our education work, get in touch at maps@gmc-uk.org.