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What We Know About the UKMLA Syllabus

With the UKMLA coming into play in 2024, information about the UKMLA syllabus is scarce. What we do know however, thanks to the GMC’s content map document, are the particular areas of medicine the exam will cover.

Here we take a look at those intricacies. We’ll also try detailing exactly what it says and make some good guesses as to what we might see come exam time. Ready to dive in?

Understanding the UKMLA Content Map

Firstly, you need to understand that the GMC’s content map is not a replacement, neither a substitute for the UKMLA syllabus itself. Basically we’re still waiting for its release – and we probably won’t see it for a good year (or more) yet.

What the document aims to do however is to provide a basis of the exam’s sampling strategy and suggest how the AKT, the first part of the exam, might be put together. This is also designed to act as a point of reference for medical schools to develop their courses. 

For us MLA candidates, on the other hand, it does show us areas that can be covered by questions on the exam. Thus shedding some light on what the future UKMLA syllabus could look like.

This content map is based on relevant parts of the Foundation Programme curriculum (that followed by junior first and second year doctors in the NHS). As well as the GMC’s Outcomes for Graduates document, something that breaks down all the expected skills aspiring UK doctors are expected to master. 

What the UKMLA Syllabus Won’t Cover

Perhaps it’s easier, going by the literature, to approach an estimation of the UKMLA syllabus based on what it won’t cover.

Rule seven in the content map, for example, says that knowledge of the NHS and its local arrangements will not be tested in the exam. That’s presumably to make it fair to non-UK residents hoping to take the exam.

The content map also states that “not all the values and behaviours expected of a new doctor can be tested in an exam.” Therefore, there are undoubtedly things missing from this article that you might still be expected to learn in the hopes of passing both parts of the exam.

What the UKMLA Syllabus Will Cover

We know, based on existing British licencing exams (PLAB) as well as the UK medical school syllabus, that the syllabus will at least cover important aspects of becoming a doctor like managing uncertainty and showing readiness for safe practice.

Person-centred care will also be a big factor on the exam syllabus. This means being able to listen to patients and understand their values and concerns, as well as being able to work effectively in a team to make informed decisions affecting patient care.

We also know that it will be quite similar to the existing syllabus of the PLAB. Which is why learning about that exam could help prepare you for the UKMLA ahead of time.

Aside from these things, the syllabus is most likely to cover these main facets:

  • Areas of clinical practice
  • Clinical and professional capabilities
  • Areas of professional knowledge

UKMLA Syllabus Components

Areas of Clinical Practice

This domain, that covers the delivery of care, can be subdivided into:

  • Patient presentations
  • Conditions

Possible subjects of interest:

  • Acute medicine
  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular
  • Child health
  • Dermatology
  • Ear, nose and throat
  • Endocrine and metabolic
  • General practice
  • Infection
  • Mental health
  • Musculoskeletal
  • Neurosciences
  • Obstetrics and gynaecology
  • Opthalmology
  • Palliative and end of life care
  • Renal and urology
  • Respiratory
  • Surgery
  • Sexual health

Areas of Professional Knowledge

This domain will discuss scientific and clinical knowledge applied to the care of the patients.
Possible subjects of interest: 

  • Allergy and immunology
  • Biomedical sciences
  • Clinical biochemistry
  • Clinical pharmacology
  • Genetic and genomics
  • Histopathology
  • Haematology
  • Medial ethics and law
  • Microbiology
  • Psychological principles
  • Social and population health

Clinical & Professional Capabilities

This domain is expected to follow the GMC’s values of Good medical practice (GMP) and will look to see exam-takers showing a holistic and compassionate approach to patient care. 
Possible subjects of interest:

  • History taking
  • Assessment and management plans for chronic conditions
  • Assessment and management plans for emergency and acute cases
  • Assessment and management plans to prevent disease
  • Acting in accordance with legal and ethical responsibilities
  • Effective communication with health care workers, patients and relatives
  • Dealing with uncertainty and complexity
  • Management and task prioritization
  • Understanding patient capacity, consent and confidentiality
  • Pain management
  • Patient safeguarding
  • Use of evidence-based guidelines

UKMLA Syllabus Topics

Our best advice in order to help you understand more about what we can expect from a future UKMLA syllabus is to of course explore the GMC’s content map document yourself. 

That way you can at least get a feel for the breadth and depth of information you’re expected to understand prior to completing the exam. 

Take your time though as it is a lengthy document and, depending on what happens in the next couple of years, might not be entirely worth your time in terms of developing a test-taking strategy.

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