The prestigious ABP Workforce Experience Awards offer a unique and distinctive platform for the ‘celebration of excellence’ in ‘applying psychology to improve working lives’.
The award is for a piece of work looking at differential attainment (DA) in medicine.
What is differential attainment?
DA is the gap between attainment levels of different groups of doctors. But it can occur across many professions.
It can exist in undergraduate and postgraduate contexts, across exam pass rates, recruitment and Annual Review of Competence Progression outcomes. It can be an indicator that training and medical education may not be fair.
As Victoria Roe, our senior consultant and project lead explains: “Psychologists and HR professionals may be more familiar with terms like ‘adverse impact’ or ‘group differences’ but it represents the same phenomenon in recruitment or selection.
“Whilst some differentials due to ability are expected, others are due solely to ethnicity, age, gender or any other protected characteristic – all of which are unfair.”
Working with The General Medical Council
Our award-winning project on differential attainment was for The General Medical Council (GMC) which prides itself on its mission to protect patient safety and improve medical practice for all.
This includes making sure that medical training for all doctors – undergraduate and postgraduate – is fair.
The GMC has worked with medical educators and researchers since 2010 to understand experiences of doctors as they progress through training.
A key aspect has been investigating the differences in attainment when comparing groups of trainees split by characteristics such as ethnicity, gender and place of undergraduate medical qualification.
This is because previous data analysis has identified a persistent gap in attainment between UK-graduated Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) and UK-graduated White trainees, across all progression measures.
The work we did
Our work with the GMC focused on understanding the experiences of Black, Asian or minority ethnic doctors who had successfully completed their medical training in programmes where DA was not observed.
We wanted to learn what had made the difference for these doctors and share this information in a practically focused way for other stakeholders.
“Our conversations with doctors and stakeholders gave us a wealth of examples”, Victoria said. “And we distilled this down to 10 success factors that were present at an organisational, team or individual level.”
This list of success factors includes:
- An inclusive workplace that values diversity
- Learners treated as individuals
- Working with inspirational senior colleagues
“The presence or absence of these factors in learning environments or different levels of access to these factors can help explain differential attainment,” Victoria says.
“The success factors supplemented with psychology theory and real–world examples show that all doctors across all programmes can succeed given the right support and access to similar opportunities.”
Since we published the report, we’ve seen it referenced across the medical training community as a blueprint that will underpin the improvement agenda concerning DA.
We’ve also attended national and international conferences, events and discussions with the GMC where the 10 success factors have been used for re-thinking how to provide BAME trainees with support. And a number of projects have since been implemented to design new interventions.
Victoria added: “We believe work like this is more important than ever within the context in which we are currently living and working.
“We’d particularly like to thank the doctors who shared their experiences with us. It’s a difficult thing to talk about but they were very keen and invested in making training fairer for all in the future.
“So, to win an award for such a relevant piece of work is a welcome ray of sunshine in what I think we can all agree has been a challenging year.”
To find out more about the project visit here.