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GPVTS Stage 3 Assessments - Hints and Tips

Author: nomad, Posted on Tuesday, April 18 @ 22:56:31 IST by RxPG  

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GPVTS Stage 3 Assessments are still set at Deanery level, and the formats used differ widely. You may be faced with structured interviews, simulated consultations, group tasks, prioritisation, or communication skills tasks. This article looks at the formats and what to expect.

Stage 3 Assessment Preparation - Tips

For those of you that get to the Stage 3 Assessment for GPVTS entry, here are a few helpful tips on what to expect.


Each Deanery is responsible for setting their own assessment for this stage, and the format varies widely – London Deanery has 2 semi structured interviews, while may other deaneries have two or three different assessments. These can include:

• Structured Interview

• Simulated consultation

• Communication skills task

• Group Task

• Written Exercise (.e.g. prioritisation)

Structured Interview

These typically involve a panel of two or three examiners asking a series of questions, with all candidates being asked the same questions. Questions can range from clinical scenarios, to ethical dilemmas, to asking about a current “Hot Topic” in general practice. Another typical question is “Why do you want to pursue a career in General Practice?” or something to that effect. You can prepare for this type of interview by reading up on the current hot topics, and learning how to provide a good response to ethical scenarios.

Hot Topics

Current topics of interest which you should know a little about include:

• The White Paper on General Practice – “Our health, our care, our say: a new direction for community services”.
• Practice based commissioning
• - Quality and outcomes framework changes / nGMS
• - Super surgeries
• - National Programme for IT (Connecting for Health)
• - Choose and Book
Private Providers - APMS

Prioritisation tasks

This typically gives you a list of things that need to be done in a limited time, and asks for you to list them in order of importance / priority, with a reason for each. The most important thing to remember is that the REASONS you give for your prioritisation is the important thing. There is no one right answer / order, so it is important NOT to get hung up on that. Usually there is at least one that is clearly of high clinical importance.

Group Tasks

For group activities, there are typically two different types used. One type offers a scenario - e.g. one of the doctors is coming in late / not pulling their weight / drunk etc., discuss this in the practice meeting. You are assigned a role and asked to role play a discussion. The examiners are looking at your team work / communication / leadership skills. Your interaction with other group members, and the way you get involved / involve others are key. Having a sensible idea about dealing with the situation is a bonus, but not essential. Remember that there is often a "hidden agenda" - maybe the doctor in question is having difficulties at home etc.

The other type of group task involves each of you advocating for a new service e.g. - the practice has a budget of £50k to develop one new service from e.g. smoking cessation, obesity management, STI clinic or health promotion. You are assigned one of these and have to prepare a small speech about why your service should be allocated the money, and then all discuss as a group where the funding should go (this is just an example). Here having a good idea helps, but again interaction and team work are key.

Communication Tasks.

These typically use a simulated patient interaction – there are two main types – a communication task, and a simulated consultation.

In a simulated consultation, the majority of the marks are for communication NOT diagnosis (although you should be able to make a sensible differential).

The other type of patient interaction is a communication task - an ethical scenario, breaking bad news, explaining an investigation or diagnosis etc.
In these cases, remember the basics will get you some easy marks - introduce yourself, try to establish rapport, ask about the patients Ideas Concerns and Expectations. Check the patient's understanding and try to be patient centred.

If you are applying for GP VTS this year, there is free advice and information on the whole process, as well as free practice MCQs for the MCQ exam at www.gpvts.info This is a free educational resource developed by nomad an RXPG member who is already on a GPVTS.

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