Gaps in practice

January/February 2011


Procedural skills in general practice vocational training

What should be taught?

Volume 40, No.1, January/February 2011 Pages 50-54

Stephen Sylvester

Parker Magin

Kevin Sweeney

Simon Morgan

Kim Henderson


A list of procedural skills is an important component of a curriculum for general practice vocational training. This study aimed to establish an up-to-date list of core procedural skills that doctors undergoing general practice vocational training should be taught.


A Delphi process was used to rank the importance of 185 general practice procedures. In 2009, 31 general practitioners took part in a two round Delphi process. A 4-point Likert scale was used to rate the importance of each procedure in vocational training.


Mean rating scores for all the procedural items listed were determined, and a core list of 112 procedures was agreed on the basis of the relative importance of procedures determined by the Delphi participants.


The ranked list of clinical procedures provides a resource to form the basis of a procedures training curriculum which can be adapted to different general practice training contexts.

Despite the wealth of procedural teaching opportunities in medical and general practice training, medical students qualify with limited experience in basic and emergency procedures1 and general practitioners can emerge from training programs lacking confidence in a range of procedural skills.2 The issue of defining core procedural skills within a curriculum for general practice training is a longstanding one, but is considered an important way to address the skills competency gap.3,4

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