A cross-sectional study examining MRCS performance by core surgical training location

Ricky Ellis* (Corresponding Author), Jennifer Cleland, Amanda Lee, Duncan Scrimgeour, Peter Brennan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


In the UK, core surgical training (CST) is the first specialty experience that early-career surgeons receive but training differs significantly across CST deaneries. To identify the impact these differences have on trainee performance, we assessed whether success at the Membership of the Royal College of Surgeons (MRCS) examinations is associated with CST deanery.
A retrospective cohort study of UK trainees in CST who attempted MRCS between 2014 and 2020 (n = 1104). Chi-squared tests examined associations between locality and first-attempt MRCS performance. Multivariate logistic regression models identified the likelihood of MRCS success depending on CST deanery.
MRCS Part A and Part B pass rates were associated with CST deanery (p < 0.001 and p = 0.013, respectively). Candidates that trained in Thames Valley (Odds Ratio [OR] 2.52 (95% Confidence Interval [CI] 1.00–6.42), North Central and East London (OR 2.37 [95% CI 1.04–5.40]) or South London (OR 2.36 [95% CI 1.09–5.10]) were each more than twice as likely to pass MRCS Part A at first attempt. Trainees from North Central and East London were more than ten times more likely to pass MRCS Part B at first attempt (OR 10.59 [95% CI 1.23–51.00]). However, 68% of candidates attempted Part A prior to CST and 48% attempted Part B before or during the first year of CST.
MRCS performance is associated with CST deanery; however, many candidates passed the exam with little or any CST experience suggesting that some deaneries attract high academic performers. MRCS performance is therefore not a suitable marker of CST training quality.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)388-393
Number of pages7
JournalMedical Teacher
Issue number4
Early online date2 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • post graduate
  • training
  • education
  • assessment
  • surgery


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