As the first anniversary of the refurbishment of the space for the Clinical Assessment Centre passes, we look back at the developments, growth and visitors of the last year.
Planning for the UCL Medical School Clinical Assessment Centre began in 2009 with the goal of creating a space that would become synonymous with training and assessment events. UCL Medical School has a long and successful history of hosting undergraduate and postgraduate assessments, collaborating with the Whittington Hospital to be one of the first centres to run the MRCP PACES exam. In 2011, the Whittington received a plaque from the Royal College of Physicians to celebrate hosting PACES exams for ten consecutive years.
One of the key reasons for developing an assessment centre was to respond to the increasing need for a venue to host ‘professional’ undergraduate and postgraduate assessments at a time when space within the NHS is extremely limited with most Trusts reluctant to close clinical areas to host assessments. The assessment centre team has many years’ experience of projects, assessments and events management from both clinical and administrative perspectives. The team’s first task was to find a venue for this exciting new venture.
In September 2010 the UCL Department of Primary Care and Population Health relocated to the UCL Royal Free campus. We viewed their former premises, located on the 2nd floor of the Holborn Union Building, UCL Archway campus and immediately recognised its potential. We redesigned the space to be more conducive to assessment and training events with a mixture of individual rooms for OSCE stations or small group work, medium rooms for breakout sessions or practical skills and large rooms for seminars or lectures.
The contractors started the refurbishment in July 2011, finishing in early September. They removed walls, installed sliding partitions, replaced many of the carpets with lino, plumbed in new toilets and a scrubbing sink and redecorated the whole centre. Whilst the contractors completed the structural refurbishment we purchased bespoke equipment and consumables to fit the varying and ongoing needs of our users. These needs include clinical membership exams using real and simulated patients, conferences, meetings and classroom teaching. Next the centre was furnished with state of the art AV equipment and technology. We installed LCD display monitors and a projector, each connecting to a high-tech lectern with touch pad control of DVD, presentation and communication skills observation facilities. We also fitted a PA system with a speaker in every room and a control point that enables split room communication. A few personal touches later including the delivery of new furniture, lockers, screens and the all important coffee machine and we were ready to go!
In September 2011 we welcomed our first post-refurbishment bookings and since then we have held over 70 events with nearly 2000 visitors. Around 100 doctors have taken their MRCP and MRCPCH membership exams; we held assessments for the GMC, NCAS and a selection to UCL Medical School project. Each event brings with it a new experience and an opportunity to continue developing and enhancing our service provision. Feedback from our centre users has been extremely positive and we look forward to the coming years as we feel we are well on our way to achieving our goal.
For more information about the Clinical Assessment Centre please visit our website www.ucl.ac.uk/cac.
“The Royal College of Physicians has been working in partnership with the UCL Clinical Assessment Centre to deliver the MRCP(UK) Practical Assessment of Clinical Examination Skills. The centre provides ample space and outstanding facilities for this high stakes examination. However it is the professionalism and efficiency of the staff at the centre that make it a truly great medical assessment facility.”
Desmond Bates, MRCP Examinations Administrator, Royal College of Physicians
“This is a truly magnificent facility and clearly facilitated the execution of the [MRCPCH] exam. The examiners themselves were impressed but also the candidates responded very positively especially when compared with other units in which they had previously unsuccessfully undertaken the membership exam. They specifically commented on the contained area of the examination suite. I do hope that the paediatric membership will be held again in such an excellent facility.”
Dr Stephen Rose, Consultant Paediatrician, Senior Examiner, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health