Background: While performance in other mandatory examinations taken at the beginning of a doctor's career are predictive of final training outcomes, the influence early postgraduate surgical examinations might have on success at Specialty Board Exams in the UK is currently unknown. The aim was to investigate whether performance at the mandatory Membership of the Royal College of Surgeons (MRCS) examination, and other variables, are predictive of success at the Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons (FRCS) examination, thus potentially identifying those who may benefit from early academic intervention.
Methods: Pearson correlation coefficients examined the linear relationship between both examinations and logistic regression analysis identified potential independent predictors of FRCS success. All UK medical graduates who attempted either section of FRCS (Sections 1 and 2) between 2012 and 2018 were included.
Results: First attempt pass rates for Sections 1 and 2 FRCS were 87.4 per cent (n = 854) and 91.8 per cent (n = 797) respectively. In logistic regression analysis, sex (male: odds ratio (OR) 2.32, 95 per cent c.i 1.43 to 3.76), age (less than 29 years at graduation: OR 3.22, 1.88 to 5.51), Part B MRCS attempts (1 attempt: OR 1.77, 1.08 to 3.00), Part A score (OR 1.14, 1.09 to 1.89) and Part B score (OR 1.06, 1.03 to 1.09) were independent predictors of Section 1 FRCS success. Predictors of Section 2 FRCS success were age (less than 29 years at graduation: OR 3.55, 2.00 to 6.39), Part A score (OR 1.06, 1.02 to 1.11) and Section 1 FRCS score (OR 1.13, 1.07 to 1.18).
Conclusion: Part A and B MRCS performance were independent predictors of FRCS success, providing further evidence to support the predictive validity of this mandatory postgraduate exam. However, future research must explore the reasons between the attainment gaps observed for different groups of doctors.