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MTAS fiasco: lessons for psychiatry

  • Paul Whelan (a1), Peter Jarrett (a2), Maja Meerten (a3), Kate Forster (a4) and Dinesh Bhugra (a5)...
Abstract
AIMS AND METHODS

The recent Medical Training Application System (MTAS) has been fraught with problems. A survey of MTAS applicants from two London training schemes and a request for emails from trainees and trainers documenting problems with the system were undertaken with the aim of canvassing the views of candidates and shortlisters/interviewers about MTAS, and providing evidence of the system's failings.

RESULTS

A total of 101 candidates responded to the survey, and the first 92 emails sent to the Royal College of Psychiatrists were analysed. The majority of respondents (73%) were dissatisfied with MTAS and 63% thought the system unfair. UK and European Economic Area (EEA) applicants (71%) were more successful in being shortlisted than non-EEA candidates (48%). The majority of applicants (70%) planned to reapply in subsequent rounds if they failed to secure a training post.

CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS

Both surveys showed clearly that the system was not working well. The trainees and trainers both felt that the system was flawed and that the reasons for the failure included a centralised system without any piloting, and the question design. In addition a lack of resources added to the stress and burden on both trainees and trainers.

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Copyright
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
References
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British Medical Association (2007) BMA Requests Urgent Meeting with Health Secretary as Junior Doctors Prepare to Head Overseas (Issued Tuesday 24 April 2007). http://www.bma.org.uk/pressrel.nsf/wlu/SGOY-72JCXL?OpenDocument.
Lydall, G., Malik, A. & Bhugra, D. (2007) MTAS: mental health of applicants seems to be deteriorating. BMJ, 334, 1335.
Shannon, C. (2007) MTAS: where are we now? BMJ, 334, 824825.
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BJPsych Bulletin
  • ISSN: 0955-6036
  • EISSN: 1472-1473
  • URL: /core/journals/bjpsych-bulletin
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MTAS fiasco: lessons for psychiatry

  • Paul Whelan (a1), Peter Jarrett (a2), Maja Meerten (a3), Kate Forster (a4) and Dinesh Bhugra (a5)...
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eLetters

MTAS fiasco: further shortlisting issues

Gregory J Lydall, ST4 General Adult Psychiatry
04 December 2007

Before the Review Group allowed for guaranteed interviews, a north London psychiatry rotation was surveyed regarding their MTAS experiences in a similar method to that of Whelan et al (Psychiatric Bulletin, November 2007, 31, 425).

37/52 (71%) responded. 32/37 (86%) were shortlisted at all, 18 (49%) were offered 1 interview, 8 (21%) two interviews, and 3 (8%) were offered three or four interviews. The ratio of applications to interviews was 2.3:1.

This group, which had been competitively selected within the last 2-3years for basic psychiatric training in a popular London rotation, did well to achieve shortlisting in any geographic area, when compared with 60% in Whelan’s sample. But 19 (51%) of these London trainees were not shortlisted by MTAS for London . Conversely, 12/19 (63%) of those shortlisted for London (generally assumed to be competitive) were not shortlisted elsewhere.

1/5 (20%) of applicants with Highly Skilled Migrant Permits (HSMP, forming 3% of the total sample) were not shortlisted; compared with 4/31 (13%) with UK/EEA/Spousal visas who were not shortlisted.

Text comments attest to the emotion behind the numbers:

“The lottery-like [shortlisting] result ... illustrates the absurdityof this process.”

“...I think it's not so much the system as the loss of 8000 jobs thatis appalling. “

“Why should doctors with families ... have to consider 'less competitive geographies' ... especially as we have been appointed in open competition in the old system?”

Like Whelan this small survey highlighted the questionable validity and reliability of the initial MTAS shortlisting process.
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Conflict of interest: None Declared

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