The Medical Oncology SCE is a postgraduate qualification delivered by the Royal College of Physicians as a higher specialist qualification for medical oncologists. It is one of 11 SCEs offered by the Royal College and offers physicians a postgraduate qualification which demonstrates achievement of a high standard (equivalent to UK specialist trainees) to prospective employers.
Here we take a closer look at the MRCP (UK) Medical Oncology Specialty Certificate Examination for doctors who have chosen to specialise in medical oncology. We cover the exam content, fees and eligibility, summarised below along with a broad look at the following topics:
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MRCP (UK) Medical Oncology SCE
The Royal College of Physicians is the professional body responsible for the specialty of medicine throughout the UK.
The medical oncology specialty certificate exams are administered as a compulsory component of assessment for Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT) in medical oncology for all UK trainees.
The purpose of an SCE is to:
ensure that certified specialists have sufficient knowledge of their specialty to practice safely and competently as consultants
complement workplace-based assessments
provide a rigorous national assessment to establish public confidence
offer a challenge similar to sub-specialty certification examination in North America
For in-depth information on each of the MRCP exams, see our IMG Resources library here.
Medical Oncology SCE as Part of Training in Oncology
As the MRCP exams are taken during the Internal Medicine Training years (CT1-CT3), an SCE allows medical oncologists to demonstrate that they are able to practice independently.
The SCE has no official entry requirements (both for UK and overseas candidates), however, UK trainees would normally take the SCE in their penultimate year of higher specialty training (ST5).
To find out more about the medical oncology training pathway in the UK, see our blog on this topic here.
The SCE assesses candidates on a wide range of common and important disorders, as set out in the syllabus of the curriculum:
Number of questions
Colorectal and anal cancer
Lung and thoracic cancer
Carcinoma of unknown origin
Germ cell tumours
Head and neck cancer
Renal cell cancer
Scientific basis of malignancy
Clinical research, ethics and economics
Systemic anticancer therapy
Supportive therapies and palliative care
Standard operating procedures
All SCEs are computer-based and are administered by Pearson VUE at a test centre in the UK or internationally.
Medical Oncology SCE Applications
SCEs are held once a year and applications are made online through My MRCP(UK) account, within the Upcoming Exams section of the Royal College website.
The application process is as follows:
Register online through My MRCP(UK) (candidates have the opportunity at this point to register any special arrangements)
Request a preferred test country and city
Pay applicable examination fee
Application is confirmed via an automatically generated email
Receive test centre confirmation email from Pearson VUE within four weeks of the examination date.
The Royal College has created a helpful video guide on SCE applications which you can watch here.
The cost of the MRCP exams are as follows:
UK centres: £665
International centres: £833
Candidates choosing to sit the exam in the UK must contact Pearson VUE to book their test. There are up to 137 test centres throughout the UK for each SCE, and the Royal College advise that candidates should book their exam as early as possible to secure their preferred test centre, as bookings operate on a first come, first served basis.
Candidates are given a choice of regions and are then asked to nominate a particular city in that region as their desired test location. MRCP (UK) will pass this request to Pearson VUE once the application period has closed, and Pearson VUE will confirm final test centre details to candidates via email at least three weeks before the date of the examination. If the exam is not available in a requested location, candidates will be offered a choice of the nearest available test centres.
Please note, international candidates should not book their own test centre with Pearson VUE, and attempting to do so may delay a candidate's application.
The full list of international SCE test centres can be found here.
Preparation and resources for the Medical Oncology SCE
With lots of resources available online, it can be difficult for IMGs to know where to start with their preparation and revision. This list should provide a good starting point for any international medical oncologists preparing to sit the SCE:
It is a good idea to regularly benchmark your knowledge by testing your knowledge and progress throughout your preparation using example questions from the current exam syllabus. You can find these here.
For an overview of how to prepare for exams, including advice on study groups, online community support, the best use of online resources & Royal College materials and courses, take a look at our blog: IMG Connect's Top Tips for exam preparation.
I’ve passed? What’s next?
First, congratulations - this is a fantastic achievement! Armed with your MRCP and medical oncology SCE qualifications, you can apply for a full GMC registration with a license to practice. Once the GMC has approved your application, you can work as a doctor in the UK. Nice one!
Don’t hesitate to get in touch with an IMG oncology recruitment specialist to discuss GMC registration, oncology positions in the NHS, including typical NHS salaries, the most suitable UK locations and hospitals for you, and relocation.
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