MRCP (UK) - a guide for medical oncologists 

  • May 02, 2022
 

Overseas medical oncologists looking to register with the GMC through the postgraduate qualification route will need to attain Membership of the Royal College of Physicians (MRCP UK)

Here we take a closer look at the MRCP (UK) examinations for doctors who have chosen their specialism in medical oncology, including a breakdown of each exam, fees and eligibility.  

International Medical Graduates (IMGs) from any country in the world can sit the MRCP examinations, provided certain eligibility criteria are met. These are summarised below along with a broad look at the following topics: 

Skip ahead to the relevant section if you know what you're looking for. 

What is MRCP(UK)? 

The Royal College of Physicians is the professional body responsible for the specialty of medicine throughout the UK. Amongst many other duties, its role is to set and monitor the educational curriculum for those training to enter the profession. 

As medical oncology comes under the umbrella of medicine, the postgraduate exams for medical oncologists are set and delivered by the Royal College of Physicians. For clinical oncologists, the Royal College of Radiologists are the overseeing body for training and exams. You can learn more about the clinical oncology postgraduate route here

The MRCP examinations assess a candidate’s knowledge of basic medical sciences, as well as clinical skills required for the diagnosis and management of disease. The exams are designed to test both applied basic science and principles of medicine to the level of a UK trainee with two to three years postgraduate experience. 

Therefore, completion of MRCP will allow you to work in the UK from ST3 level upward, with seniority beyond ST3 level dependent on experience. 

MRCP (as a postgraduate qualification) is one of the two main routes an overseas doctor can take to gain full GMC registration, the other being the PLAB route. For in-depth information on each of the MRCP exams, see our IMG Resources library here

MRCP as Part of Training in Oncology 

Full MRCP (UK) is a requirement for all oncologists wishing to go on to a specialty training post in the UK.

For doctors who wish to find more senior roles in the NHS which are reflective of their current practice and experience, IMG Connect advise that MRCP (UK) would be the best route to take to GMC registration. 

MRCP (UK) Exams Structure 

The MRCP exam has three parts as outlined below:  

MRCP (UK) Part 1 

The first exam in the MRCP exam suite tests a sample of medical knowledge skills and behavior are specified in the UK specialty training curriculum for core medical training / internal medicine training.  

The first examine that MRCP suite is designed to assess the candidate's knowledge and understanding of the clinical silences relevant to medical practice and of common or important disorders to a level appropriate for entry to specialist training. 

The examination has a two-paper format - each paper is 3 hours long and contains 100 multiple choice questions in a ‘best of five’ format. The paper both tests core knowledge and comprehension as well as a candidate's ability to interpret information and solve clinical problems. 

Each question has five options: one correct answer and four alternatives to the correct answer. 

The exam is also designed to help prepare candidates for the more challenging Part 2 written and PACES exam. 

Specialty 

Number of questions 

Cardiology 

14 

Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics 

15 

Clinical sciences 

25 

Dermatology 

Endocrinology, diabetes and metabolic medicine 

14 

Gastroenterology and Hepatology 

14 

Geriatric medicine 

Haematology 

14 

Infectious diseases 

14 

Neurology 

14 

Oncology 

Medical ophthalmology 

Palliative medicine and end of life care 

Psychiatry 

Renal medicine 

14 

Respiratory medicine 

14 

Rheumatology 

14 

Total 

200 

 

For more detailed information on the content of the exam, see the Royal College website here

MRCP (UK) Part 2 

The second exam in the exam suite builds on the knowledge assessed in Part 1 and again tests the acquisition of a representative sample of medical knowledge skills and behavior. 

The questions will usually have a clinical scenario, may include the results of investigations and may be illustrated with images such as clinical photographs, pathology slides, inheritance trees ECGs, X-rays, CT and MR scans and echocardiograms. 

Questions are asked about the diagnosis investigation management and prognosis of patients using multiple choice questions in a ‘best of five’ format. 

Specialty 

Number of questions 

Cardiology 

19 

Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics 

18 

Dermatology 

Endocrinology, diabetes and metabolic medicine 

19 

Gastroenterology and Hepatology 

19 

Geriatric medicine 

Haematology 

Infectious diseases 

19 

Medical ophthalmology 

Neurology 

17 

Oncology, Palliative medicine & end-of-life care 

Psychiatry 

Renal medicine 

19 

Respiratory medicine 

19 

Rheumatology 

Total 

200 

 

For more detailed information on the content of the exam, see the Royal College website here

MRCP (UK) PACES 

The MRCP (UK) Practical Assessment of Clinical Examination Skills (PACES) assesses a candidate’s ability to carry out essential clinical skills. 

There are five clinical stations where there are either patients with a given condition, or trained stand-ins (surrogates). At each station, there are two independent examiners who will observe and evaluate the candidates' performance.  

PACES Carousel 

For more detailed information on the content of the exam, see the Royal College website here

Eligibility for Overseas Medical Oncologists 

Part 1 

To be eligible for MRCP (UK) Part 1, you must have a GMC recognised Primary Medical Qualification and a minimum of 12 months postgraduate experience in medical employment. 

Part 2 & PACES  

To be eligible for MRCP (UK) Part 2 & PACES, you must have passed Part 1 within the last seven years. 

Please note, whilst it is not essential to successfully complete Part 2 to sit PACES, the Royal College strongly advises you to do so, as pass-rates are much lower for those who sit PACES before passing Part 2. 

Applications 

Applications for all MRCP exams are made online through My MRCP(UK) account, via the Royal College website. You will need to create an account and submit evidence of your primary medical qualification, then make a payment online to confirm your application. 

The cost of the MRCP exams are as follows: 

Candidate 

Part 1 

Part 2 

PACES 

UK 

£448 

£448 

£657 

International 

£608 

£608 

£1,202 

 

Exam Centres 

The MRCP exams are held 4 times a year and can be sat in several locations around the world, including the UK, Manama, Dhaka, Cairo, Accra, Hong Kong, Reykjavik, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kerala, Kolkata, Mumbai, New Delhi, Erbil, Amman, Nairobi, Kuwait City, Kuala Lumpur, Malta, Kathmandu, Muscat, Karachi, Lahore, Doha, Jeddah, Riyadh, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Khartoum, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, New Jersey, Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and Harare. 

Please note that the number of sittings for each exam varies between countries – you can find the full list of cities and dates here

The Part 1 and Part 2 exams are held online in the UK for candidates within the UK and Republic of Ireland. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, there is limited availability of spaces for the PACES exam, and whilst every effort will be made to provide as many places as possible, if the number of applications for the exam exceeds the places available, candidates in UK training will be prioritised. 

Preparation and Resources 

With lots of resources available online, we have discussed with IMGs the best place to start looking for materials relating to the exams. Most IMGs recommended starting with the Royal College, who have created useful resources to help you to prepare for the exams. These include: 

Curriculum: Applicants are tested on a range of common and important disorders in General Medicine as set out in the Joint Royal Colleges’ Specialty Training Curriculum for Core Medical Training. We recommend getting to know the curriculum as early as possible and using it as a roadmap for your study.  

Sample questions for Part 1 & Part 2: It is a good idea to regularly benchmark your knowledge by testing yourself using example questions from the current exam syllabus provided by the Royal College see below: 

PACES scenarios: To familiarise yourself with the format of the PACES exam, take a look at sample scenarios from the stations. You can find these here

For an overview of how to prepare for exams, including advice on study groups, online community support, best use of online resources & Royal College materials and courses, take a look at our blog: IMG Connects Top Tips for exam preparation. 

For more information on the MRCP exams including structure, preparation, dates and a content drilldown, see the blogs we’ve written on each part of the examination suite: 

I’ve passed, what’s next? 

First of all, congratulations! This is a massive achievement and you deserve to put your feet up after all that hard work. With full MRCP, you can now apply for a full GMC registration with a license to practice (once you’ve passed an English language exam). Once the GMC has approved your application, you can work as a doctor in the UK. Nice one! 


Get in touch 

Don’t hesitate to contact 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. 

For regular news and updates on the Royal College and all things oncology, follow IMG Connect on social media using the links below: 

            

 

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