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How do we educate the next generation of emergency physicians: RCEM 50
  1. Will Townend1,
  2. Jason Long2,
  3. Lisa Munro-Davies3,
  4. Emily Beet4
  1. 1 Emergency Department, Hull Royal Infirmary, Hull, UK
  2. 2 Emergency Department, Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, Glasgow, UK
  3. 3 Emergency Department, University Hospitals Bristol NHS trust, Bristol, UK
  4. 4 Education Department, Royal College of Emergency Medicine, London, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Will Townend, Emergency Department, Hull Royal Infirmary, Hull HU3 2JZ, UK; william.townend{at}

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‘The great aim of education is not knowledge but action.’ H. Spencer


The training needs of the next generation are based on the needs of the population they serve.1 These are the basis for curricula and each developed Emergency Medicine (EM) system has one. There is a move away from training based on time served or a list of EM presentations to be covered to one based on generic capabilities and defined activities that an EM clinician will have to do at work. This is happening in Australasian, Canadian and now UK EM education.

Generic competences for EM training has been described by FACEM in Australia in a curriculum framework.2 The Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians are changing their curriculum design as part of a national move to Competency-Based Medical Education (CBME).3 They have had a national generic framework of competence, Can MEDS, against which doctors in postgraduate training have been evaluated since 2005.4 In their new CBME programme, doctors will be adjudged competent in key activities of practice, in which they will demonstrate they meet Can MEDS competencies, before they can move on to the next stage of training. These activities are those that an EM clinician will have to be able deliver independently to complete training. Such activities have been described as Entrustable Professional Activities (EPAs)—‘Professional activities that together constitute the mass of critical elements that operationally define a profession’.5

In 2017, the UK General Medical Council (GMC), in its guidance for curriculum design, has incorporated the need for all UK medical training programmes to include Generic Professional Capabilities (GPCs) and that these are introduced across all specialties by 2020.6 The GMC state:

‘The primary purpose of GPCs is to describe the fundamental, career-long, generic capabilities required to develop and maintain key …

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  • Contributors WT drafted the manuscript and EB, LM-D and JL edited.

  • Disclaimer WT is the Curriculum Lead for RCEM, JL is the RCEM Dean, LM-D is RCEM Vice-President, EB is RCEM Education Lead and deputy CEO.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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