An agenda for UK clinical pharmacology: How should training of graduates in clinical pharmacology and therapeutics be delivered and assessed?


Dr Peter Jackson, Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Glossop Road, Sheffield S10 2JF, UK. Tel.: +44 (0)11 4271 2615. Fax: +44 (0)11 4271 3915. E-mail:


The UK postgraduate curriculum in clinical pharmacology and therapeutics (CPT) incorporates the common competencies required of all physicians and shows how trainees from other specialties, including primary care, can train in CPT. Various models of training and assessment are possible. Evolution of the current system to meet new challenges would maintain an established tradition, with a ready source of training funds. However, this would require greater input from all consultants in CPT, including the training and assessment of trainees. A joint venture with the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Medicine would have the advantage, if the Faculty agreed, of introducing ready-made curriculum modules and assessment tools that have been accepted by the General Medical Council. However, extra modules relevant to CPT would have to be constructed to complement the common areas already in the pharmaceutical medicine curriculum, and there would be a perceived loss of the independence that clinical pharmacologists currently enjoy when making decisions about manufacturers' products. Abandoning externally approved training in CPT would allow the specialty to devise its own training and assessment in the necessary skills. Critically, however, this would impair the status of the specialty and would incur loss of financial support from postgraduate Deaneries. To attract high-calibre trainees, we must completely define CPT training and assessment structures. Most clinical pharmacologists seem to prefer to allow the current structures to evolve under external guidance. However, this will not succeed unless all trained clinical pharmacologists contribute to development of both the curriculum and specific assessment tools, and open their teaching and assessment skills to scrutiny.