As you will be aware, an essential part of training is the Faculty’s acceptance of a written piece of work demonstrating competency in research methods.
The Faculty appoints two assessors who jointly assess the quality of the dissertation (or equivalent evidence) to determine if the work achieves MFOM standards. The responsibility for determining the admissibility and adequacy of dissertations lies with the Chief Examiner (Research Methods). The Faculty’s Chief Examiner is currently Dr Kate Venables, supported by Dr Richard Preece as Deputy Chief Examiner.
Once assessed, dissertations may need to be modified as a result of the comments from the assessors. Often these are minor changes. However, some of the assessors’ comments state that written work submitted has contained gross spelling errors, errors in page numbering or referencing, and generally very poor presentation. Dissertations with these faults will automatically need revision. Trainees should make every effort to avoid submitting a poorly-presented dissertation; fluency and clarity in written work is a key competency for occupational physicians.
There has also been a recent significant increase in the number of dissertations which require major modifications. This suggests that some trainees may not have absorbed the feedback from their protocol reviewers, or may not have had adequate advice about posing clear questions and obtaining and presenting evidence to support their answers. Inevitably, major revisions need a full reassessment and the outcome (pass or fail) is always uncertain.
Educational supervisors have a key role to play in encouraging and guiding their trainees with their submission of a satisfactory dissertation. A dissertation which requires revision is disappointing and time-consuming and will delay the trainee’s progress which in turn is likely to delay the award of MFOM and subsequently CCT. Specialty occupational medicine training relies heavily on the expertise of, and supervision by, the trainer, and trainers are asked to consider how they might best help their trainee avoid the need for dissertation revisions.
The Faculty has produced guidance to help trainees and educational supervisors ensure that dissertations are well prepared and well presented at the first submission. Further details are available via the link below.
In addition, the Faculty is organising a workshop aimed at dissertation assessors and trainers, focusing on the principles of assessment for examining the MFOM dissertation. The event is due to take place in London on 12 March, 2012 and further information about the day is being emailed directly to assessors and trainers.
We are also planning a workshop for trainees, which will focus on study design and analysis for the MFOM dissertation. It will primarily be aimed at those trainees in the early stages of planning their dissertation. It will be held on Tuesday 24 April, 2012 at the Faculty’s office and further details will be available early in the new year.