Objectives In 2007 Defence Medical Service (DMS) Medical Officers (MOs) applying to train within hospital based specialities were selected using the Medical Training Application Service (MTAS). Recognising the problems being reported about MTAS, the Defence Postgraduate Medical Deanery (DPMD) conducted an evaluation in order to assess whether DMS MOs had also experienced problems with the MTAS process.
Methods DMS MO applicants were sent an email questionnaire, requesting both graded (Likert scale) and narrative responses, to gauge their opinion about the application service. The questionnaire covered the technical aspects of the process, the support available and the ability to demonstrate appropriate knowledge and skills.
Results Only 42 responses (32%) were received. However, having considered areas of potential bias, the graded questionnaire results and thematic analysis of the narrative responses showed a clear consensus amongst the applicants in many areas. More than three quarters (78%) of DMS applicants criticised the opportunity to record their abilities and achievements, and 91% recorded that the questions were unable to differentiate between candidates. These views were mirrored in the narrative responses, with more than 130 statements covering five topic areas highlighting areas for improvement. Strong support was recorded for the work and advice provide by DPMD in support of the candidates.
Conclusions DMS MOs presented very negative opinions of their experiences of MTAS, highlighting their perceptions that they were unable to record their particular skills and experiences and that the questions were unable to discriminate between specialties. Particular difficulties were reported in presenting non-NHS experiences and skills.
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