by Jamie Strachan

The Annual Review of Competency Progression (ARCP) season has just passed for many trainees in Intensive Care Medicine in the UK, and we are at the start of a new academic year.  Those that sail through with an outcome 1 (ready to progress to the next year) breathe a sigh of relief, but those with any other outcome, for example an outcome 5,  need to provide more evidence and may feel despondent – “I didn’t know I had to have that paperwork in that place”…

As often as we are told to “fill things in through the year”, the reality is that many of us marry busy clinical commitments with our actual lives. “pre-ARCP month” is the time to search out the email about ARCPs and start filling e-portfolios with relevant/missing evidence in order to fulfil requirements of training.

What are they? When you start a placement in the ICM programme you will be told, usually by your Training Programme Director (TPD), what you are expected to achieve in a year and present at your ARCP; often in the form of a list of evidence you need to present via your portfolio. My request to trainees is that, this year, when you receive this, instead of (perhaps) archiving the email for later consumption, you take a moment to read through the list.  Does it all make sense? Would you be confident what the practicalities of each item mean in 11 or 12 months?


I truly think all trainers want to come to a shared understanding, early in the year, of what is expected

If not, you could do what I have just done in response to request from my TPD for feedback on the ARCP, which is send the checklist back with tracked comments asking for clarification of wording, practicalities or alignment with national guidance. Perhaps my TPD is unusual in being so receptive to 20 tracked comments on a single page of A4 word document… but in fact I truly think all trainers want to come to a shared understanding, early in the year, of what is expected, knowing that this is much better done now than 2 weeks before your ARCP.  My TPD really took on board my comments and she changed some of the things I asked about, reducing the inconsistency, accounted for some LTFT issues and clarified other points I made; we revised the check list together.

There is, anecdotally, wide variation in how the national guidance is interpreted in the various regions that run ARCPs.  Additionally, consultants I have met that sit on panels tell of many different experiences and routes of training, with trainees coming from ED/acute medicine/anaesthesia backgrounds, dual training with other specialties and their different portfolios, single specialty ICM trainees, old “joint” trainees with paper portfolios (they exist!) etc. – at times it is bewildering for them too.

There is national guidance available on the process in the form of the gold guide, and the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine have published guidance [1,2].  In particular, I would point the reader towards the recently published guidance (July 2017) by the Faculty on reducing the “assessment burden” within Intensive Care medicine training [3].

In summary – training in ICM is about a lot more than paperwork and ARCPs, BUT they are a part of life.  If your ARCP checklist is not clear, then say so; trainees can make training better!

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Are you a trainee interested in opportunities within intensive care medicine? ICM Career Day is on October 12th in London.   Find out more and register here.

  1. https://www.copmed.org.uk/publications/the-gold-guide Accessed 1/8/17
  2. https://ficm.ac.uk/training-examinations/curriculum-assessment-training Accessed 1/8/17
  3. https://ficm.ac.uk/sites/default/files/ficm_competency_sign_off_guidance_v1_jul_17.pdf Accessed 1/8/17


Interested in your future career in intensive care medicine? ICS Career Day is on October 12th in London. Find out more and register here.

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