For students looking to become a member of the four surgical colleges in the UK, the MRCS is a mandatory postgraduate qualification.
For those looking to become a Surgeon, the MRCS is an essential postgraduate qualification that can make life so much easier for you.
Though it is not necessarily a requirement to become a Surgeon, it is mandatory for anyone wishing to belong to any of the four surgical colleges in the United Kingdom and will also help to boost your student CV when applying for jobs in the medical sector.
What is MRCS?
The MRCS stands for the Membership of the Royal Colleges of Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland and it is a postgraduate diploma for Surgeons in the UK and Ireland. It is an essential part of the process for any of the four surgical colleges in the UK and Ireland, which are:
- Royal College of Surgeons of England
- Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh
- Royal College of Surgeons of Glasgow
- Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland
The qualification is studied on an intercollegiate basis, which means that the diploma is studied between college and university.
Is there an exam?
The MRCS ends with an examination in two parts, Part A and Part B. Part A is a five-hour examination which assesses a candidate’s applied basic science (three hours) and the principles of surgery in general (five hours), with all of the questions being multiple choice.
Part B is a four-hour practical exam, which takes an in-depth look at the day-to-day surgical practices and looks at anatomy, pathology, critical care, clinical procedures and patient evaluation.
It is mandatory to complete both examinations in order to complete the core surgical training prior to taking any further higher surgical training.
How to prepare for the MRCS
There are lots of MRCS resources available online for students that are looking for help, the Royal College of Surgeons themselves also offer resources for students that require assistance or revision advice, which include a private video tutor (called The Funky Professor), a general PgCert and library resources.
In terms of how to prepare for the MRCS, it is generally thought that around four or five months of study is sufficient. As the qualification is technically seen as a postgraduate diploma, students should be aware of its complexity going in.
There are books that have been explicitly written for aiding students that are looking to take the MRCS, such as:
- MRCS Part A: 500 SBAs and EMQs by Pradip Datta and Sherif Elsobky
- MRCS Part A: Essential Revision Notes Book 1 & 2 by Catherine Parchment Smith and Claire Ritchie Chalmers
- Basic and Applied Surgical Anatomy for MRCS Part B (OSCE) by Miss Leila Touil, Miss Daniela Bondin, et al
- Surgical Critical Care For the MRCS OSCE by Mazyar Kanani and Simon Lammy
How much does the MRCS cost?
The MRCS has two parts, which means that you have two separate costs to account for when booking your test. There are six attempts allowed for the first part and four attempts allowed for the second part. The costs are as follows:
- Part A: £550.00 (2021)
- Part B: £997.00 (2021)
If you decide to withdraw from the exam in writing beforehand, then you can be refunded your full fee, minus a 20% administration fee. Those who withdraw on medical grounds, are usually given a full refund, depending on the circumstances. You are not entitled to a refund if it is not for compassionate or medical reasons.
What are the MRCS exam dates?
The specific examination dates of the MRCS will change every year, but usually, you can find that the application deadline and the examination dates will fall into the same months every year.
For the most part, there is a three month gap between the application deadline and the examination date, the table below should show you when to apply and when your exam date will be:
|Application deadline||Examination date|
It has been known that the MRCS exam will be held at other points, but these are the most common dates for the examination.
How do I apply for the MRCS?
In order to be eligible for the MRCS, you will be required to hold a medical degree that is accepted by the UK General Medical Council (GMC) for provisional registration for the exam or to the Medical Council in Ireland for full and for temporary registration for the exam.
You will have to apply through the Royal College of Surgeons for the exam, however, if you are a first-time applicant and your name does not appear on the registers of the GMC or the Medical Council in Ireland, then you will be asked to submit your original (or an authenticated copy) certificate of a medical degree as part of your application.