Clinical oncology curriculum FAQs

A list of frequently asked questions related to the new clinical oncology curriculum can be found below.


Why has the curriculum changed?

Feedback was that the existing curriculum format was long-winded, repetitive and not user friendly. As a research driven specialty, oncology is fast moving and the curriculum was out of date and did not provide the flexibility to address new treatments and technology. The new curriculum will provide more flexibility and better support patient, professional and service need.

The desire to review the curriculum coincided with the release of new standards for postgraduate medical curricula from the GMC and the changes made allow the curriculum to meet these standards.

What is different in the new clinical oncology curriculum?

The new curriculum for clinical oncology is structured around high level learning outcomes, called capabilities in practice (CiPs), which describe clearly and at a high level what a doctor will be able to do on completion of training. There are 19 CiPs in the clinical oncology curriculum. including 6 generic CiPs, that apply to all doctors, 7 oncology CiPs that apply to both clinical and medical oncologists and 6 specialty-specific CiPs that only apply to clinical oncology.

The CiPs are underpinned by descriptors that provide guidance on the clinical context which supports their achievement and by a table that provides a brief outline of common presentations and conditions in different groups of acute oncology patient. This approach makes the curriculum much more concise and user friendly.

Emerging technologies, such as genomics and AI, are addressed in the descriptors and in dedicated sections of the curriculum, allowing the curriculum to be future-proof and to effectively prepare trainees for the future demands of a changing service.

Trainees may demonstrate their progress against the CiPs in a variety of different ways, reflecting their strengths, areas of interest and the resources available to them. This, along with the inclusion of generic and common oncology CiPs and the introduction of the common oncology stem, creates a flexible curriculum that can be tailored to individual trainees and meet local service needs.

Progress against the CiPs is assessed using a scale based on the concept of entrustable professional activities, allowing intuitive decisions about progress, supported by progression grids that clearly define the expected level of competence for each stage of training.

What is the oncology common stem?

The oncology common stem (OCS) is the initial period of common training for clinical and medical oncology that constitutes ST3 for both specialties. The OCS has an indicative duration of one year, during which the focus will be on the development of the generic CiPs expected of all doctors and the common CiPs relating to the key areas of overlap between the two specialties.

Successful completion of the OCS will equip trainees with the necessary capabilities to progress to ST4 in either clinical oncology or medical oncology, with full recognition of the capabilities attained during OCS and without additional training time.

Clinical oncology and medical oncology will retain individual entry points and trainees will have either a clinical oncology or medical oncology training number. If a trainee wishes to transfer specialty at the end of ST3 they will still be required to apply, in open competition, through the existing national recruitment process.

Are there any new assessments?

The new curriculum retains the same range of formative workplace based assessment found in the 2016 clinical oncology curriculum and there have been no changes to the FRCR examinations. The use and structure of these assessments is well established and they can easily be applied to the new curriculum.

Two additional types of WPBA, the multiple consultant report (MCR) and the acute care assessment tool (ACAT) have been introduced. These reflect the increased emphasis on acute oncology and the closer relationship between the clinical and medical oncology curricula, including the oncology common stem.

The MCR has been introduced to capture the views of consultant supervisors on a trainee’s clinical performance.  In the OCS, this report should include at least one clinical oncology supervisor and at least one medical oncology supervisor. 

The ACAT is intended to be used for providing feedback to trainees on supervised aspects of acute oncology provision and reflects the increased emphasis on providing acute oncology services in the clinical oncology curriculum.  The ACAT is currently used to evaluate acute care elements in a general medical setting, is familiar to trainees and many supervisors , and can easily and appropriately be applied to this acute care context.

As a result of introducing two additional assessments, the minimum number of each assessment that is required for each stage of training has been amended so that the overall burden of assessment for trainees and supervisors is not increased.  Details of this can be seen on the ARCP decision aids.

It is our intention to conduct a wider review of assessment, including the timing and content of the FRCR examinations, once the new curriculum is embedded and following a suitable period of research and piloting.

I’m a current clinical oncology trainee, will I have to switch to the new curriculum?

You will need to transfer to the new curriculum, unless you are due to CCT before 1 September 2022. You will transfer following your 2020/21 ARCP, ideally by August 2021. There is flexibility for those who may have late ARCPs (for example in September or October), however in most cases trainees would be expected to begin working to the new curriculum by August 2021.

Further guidance for when trainees should transfer to the new curriculum is given in the ‘guidance for deaneries and ARCP panels’ document on the RCR curriculum webpages, under assessment.

I’m a trainee working less than full time (LTFT), when will I be transferred?

All trainees will transfer to the new curriculum, including those working LTFT. This will normally take place following your 2020/21 ARCP, ideally by August 2021. There is flexibility for those who may have late ARCPs (for example in September or October), however in most cases trainees would be expected to begin working to the new curriculum by August 2021.

Clinical oncology trainees in ST7 will not be required to transfer to the new curriculum, provided that they are due to CCT before 1 September 2022.

Further guidance for when trainees should transfer to the new curriculum is given in the ‘guidance for deaneries and ARCP panels’ document on the RCR curriculum webpages, under assessment.

I'm a trainee and will be out of programme/on statutory leave during the transition period - when will I be transferred?

All trainees must transfer to the new curriculum by August 2022. If you are out of programme or on statutory leave the date at which you transfer will depend on when you return to training.

If you return to training before August 2021, you will have the option to transfer straight away or to wait until your next ARCP, provided that this is before August 2022. If you return to training after August 2021, or your next ARCP would be later than August 2022, you will transfer to the new curriculum immediately on your return.

The evidence collected while following the current curriculum can be used to show progress against the CiPs and ARCP panels will use their professional judgement when making decisions about progress. A mapping document detailing how the CiPs relate to the competences listed in the current curriculum is available to support trainees and ARCP panels in this process.

Further guidance for when trainees should transfer to the new curriculum is given in the ‘guidance for deaneries and ARCP panels’ document on the RCR curriculum webpages, under assessment.

What support will there be for trainers and trainees?
A full programme of support will be available for trainees and trainers, including face to face training, short videos, and guidance documents. Trainee and trainer ‘curriculum champions’ will provide a local point of contact and help to cascade training throughout the regions.

What should I be doing to prepare for the transition?

Make sure that you have familiarised yourself with the new clinical oncology curriculum and that you look out for implementation updates in newsletters, e-bulletins and on the curriculum website. The curriculum implementation tools webpage includes a checklist to show what you can be doing to prepare for curriculum implementation, with links to resources to help you.

How do I find out more?

There will be regular updates through newsletters, e-bulletins and the curriculum website. You can also speak to your curriculum champions for information and advice – these will be your local experts on all things related to the 2021 curriculum.

For specific queries not addressed on the website or by your curriculum champions, you can contact the RCR curriculum team by email or through our feedback form.

cographicsfaq0png