ARCP: A realistic Catalogue of (Stolen) Pens (by the Seniors) - The chronicles of a Foundation Year 1 Doctor
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Actually, ARCP stands for: Annual review of competency Progression.

And actually, no senior has ever stolen my pen. Maybe my pens are just not nice enough! And that my friends, is the real Tea


So even before I started working as a doctor, my medical school was already telling me about this end of year portfolio check. As if finals and OSCEs and, I don’t know, starting real actual work wasn’t stressful enough, here was yet another additional thing we had to do to prove that we are good enough to carry on working.


So what actually is it? Well, it’s an online portfolio where you record your skills, your teaching sessions, mini clinical exams you have done and case based discussions you’ve had with feedback from your seniors. It’s also a space where you can add your reflections whether they are private or public. Just don’t mention the people by name!


The aim being that at the end of the year when a panel of senior doctors looks through your portfolio they can say ‘yes, this doctor meets the requirements to progress to Foundation Year 2’. And really it is as simple as that. No tricks, no cutting corners. Just slowly adding evidence throughout the year.


But what makes it tedious is getting signatures, setting time aside to write those reflections and weirdly, choosing which ones you want to include! Not to mention, you will do so many procedures in the first few weeks but guaranteed you will conveniently forget to get them signed off.


For the most part, the ARCP process is a very isolated one. As a foundation doctor, your contribution is remotely done and via your online portfolio.

For most people the following is mandatory: (and this may change slightly year on year and hospital to hospital so best to check with your trust)
  • Regular meetings with your educational and clinical supervisor (who might be the same person sometimes!)
  • Regular reflections for each rotation
  • Completion of all 15 mandatory procedures (these are ones that everyone who has been to medical school will be familiar with and have done at some point in medical school such as : Venipuncture, ABG or catheter insertion)
  • Evidence of Mini-Cexes, CBDs
  • Evidence of teaching


That’s the bulk of it. My year was a little strange because the year was 2020. And we are all going to remember 2020 for the awful Australian Brush fires, on-going discourse around Brexit and Harry and Meghan leaving the UK. Oh, and that little thing called Covid-19.

Because of the pandemic, the higher-uppers realised that a lot of pressure was being put on all of the NHS. For this reason our portfolio requirements were a little less stringent with the focus really being on : are you competent enough to carry on to the next stage of your career. And whilst the efforts to support us were appreciated, it was a little disappointing that I couldn’t show all that I had done throughout the year! (Am I a keen or what :p )


Nevertheless, ARCP sounds scary. But it isn’t. It shouldn’t be. It’s like the first check-point to ensure that there is standardisation in the quality of medical care that doctors deliver. It’s there to keep patients safe. And ultimately that’s all of our number one priority.

And with that, I’ll just go and add a few more things to my portfolio for next year’s ARCP…

Originally published 24 June 2020 , updated 24/06/2020

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