TrOn pOst

For the latest news on TrOn, please visit our Progress page.


5 December 2016

A pOst from the Editor: TrOn - the Future

It is with sadness that I have to announce that the first phase of TrOn's existence - the Big Bang - is coming to an end.


Look to the future and boldly go

The funds made available by the College, in response to concerns some years ago about the level of exam fees, have been exhausted, and while TrOn will soon have a full complement of modules to cover the RCPsych Membership curriculum's basic science topics, the hoped-for clinical topics, for the time being, are not to be.


We are firmly into the age of 'user-generated content', and the internet now alternately shrieks, bellows and moans with the views, opinions, thoughts, reflections and theories of all of us. Of course, so much of this perhaps has value, at best, as ventilation, and we need more carefully-chosen sources to guide us in our professional development. Here the challenges remain, with a wealth of online teaching materials, but of course whatever the banner at the top, the quality can be hard to judge without insight into the editorial policies - specifically with respect to the material we are interested in.


TrOn has been an inspiring piece of co-production between experts at the head of their field, educators with deep knowledge of the requirements of the College Membership examinations, and trainees with first-hand 'expertise by experience' of what is more likely to help those coming after. It exists therefore as an authoritative source for trainees in psychiatry working to get abreast of what is expected of them.


TrOn will be supported, alongside its sister publication CPD Online, in the long term. Here at the College we will continue to explore ways of developing it further. I am grateful for the hard work of our authors, our trainee editors: Genevieve Holt, Amy Manley and Claire Fenton; as well as Victoria Walker, Mark Turner, Mina Kupfermann and Emma Leishman our editorial team. I hope that you will continue to find TrOn helpful in your preparation for the relevant parts of the Membership examinations.


Dr Stuart Leask Editor, RCPsych Trainees Online


2 November 2016

Returning to practice

If you’ve had a break from training – or are planning to – you may be concerned about returning to practice.


  • Will you be expected to jump straight back in to your training and clinical duties?


  • Will you have enough support as you rebuild your skills?


  • You might be worried about finances and adjusting your training around your circumstances, or unsure about the options for maternity and paternity leave and less than full time training (LTFT).


Many trainees will need to take time out at some point for health reasons, family commitments, or to pursue additional training. Trainees could be juggling childcare with education, work, and additional activities and projects. Consequently many will also be anxious about suspending their training and then returning to practice. Recognising the importance of offering guidance on this issue to trainees and their supervisors, the Psychiatric Trainees’ Committee is leading a free, day-long conference on 21 November 2016, Return to Practice.


In addition to the excellent programme of lectures, workshops and panel discussions, TrOn will be making an appearance on the day! If you are attending the conference, do drop by to see us on our stand during registration and breaks. Our Trainee Editor (Genevieve Holt) will be discussing TrOn during a panel discussion chaired by the Dean, who is also giving a paper about her experiences of LTFT.


The registration deadline for the conference has been extended to 8th November, email the PTC with any queries.


There is information on re-entering training and clinical practice online:


  • Check out this paper written by one of the Return to Practice conference speakers, Dr Emma Plunkett, LTFT Lead Trainee for Anaesthesia. Emma has developed a return to work programme for doctors in the West Midlands that might inspire you to establish your own.




As this is the TrOn pOst...

We would also like to emphasise the relevance of our basic science modules to the issue of returning to practice. TrOn is not only a go-to resource for MRCPsych revision but a brilliant way to keep on top of theory and knowledge, easing you back in to the training groove.




4 October 2016

TrOn 2-minute treatment #3 - the exams compendium

We’ve pulled together some handy information for you on the College exams, whether you’re sitting your Paper B next week, taking Paper A in a couple of months, or planning to pass your CASC next year.


Wondering when and where the exams take place?


Paper A


The next Paper A diet is on 6 December and the application period for this is 10-28 October 2016. There will be an application form available online between these dates.


Paper B


The next paper B diet is on 11 October. It’s too late to apply to sit this exam but there will be more dates in the New Year. If you are taking the exam – best of luck! See our TrOn 2-minute treatment #2 – study guide below for some last-minute hints and tips. Results will be published on 4 November.




There are no further CASC exams in 2016 but there will be more scheduled for 2017.


To stay up to date with exam dates, application periods and results days, see the Exams Calendar on the College website.


This year, exams have taken place in London, Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Dublin, Hong Kong, Oman, India and Singapore!


The exams


Here are some facts and figures:


There are 2 written papers (Paper A and Paper B), each 3 hours long and containing 200 marks. Currently, Paper A is broken into 2 halves of 90 minutes and 100 marks each but this is for an interim period only (this is because of changes to the written papers in recent years).


Paper A and Paper B are each comprised of 2 thirds Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs) and 1 third Extended Matching Items (EMIs).


Paper A is designed to test your knowledge of the scientific and theoretical basis of psychiatry; Paper B critical review and clinical topics. In syllabus terms, Paper A covers items 1-5 inclusive and Paper B covers 6-14. There are 2 parts to the current syllabus: the first part covers everything but the second part expands on the knowledge required for the critical review exam.


The CASC exam is the Clinical Assessment of Skills and Competencies.


Remember to familiarise yourself with the format of the exam so you know what to expect. There are sample questions online for Paper A and Paper B and videos of sample stations for the CASC exam.


You can find out the marking scheme for the exams online too.


Not successful first time round?


  • Don’t worry! This isn’t uncommon. Candidates are allowed up to 6 attempts at each component of the exam so you can brush yourself off, get back to the books/internet and try again.

  • Digest the feedback that’s provided with your result letter (for unsuccessful candidates only).

  • Remember to keep going through TrOn modules! Doing these will help to build and consolidate your knowledge and you can repeat them as many times as you need to – they are revision tools not tests.


All of the information above and lots more can be found on the Exams pages on the College website. Contact the Exams team if you have any queries.


Did you know...

That the Exams unit is looking for a Trainee Rep to sit on the Examinations Sub-Committee/CASC Panel? Great for your CV, a chance to find out how the system works and an opportunity to represent a trainee perspective! Find out more online.



9 September 2016

As a psychiatrist, how do you change minds?

by Clare Fenton (Trainee Editor)


For my first ARCP panel presentation as an ST4 in child and adolescent psychiatry I took a gamble. I stood in front of my training program director and other senior consultants and asked them to take a shoe off and place it in front of them on the table. They all looked suitably puzzled, but complied with an assortment of shoes (in varying states of cleanliness and repair) being placed on the table.


I asked them to consider this shoe for a few moments.


No doubt at that point they thought I was going to say something about walking in another’s shoes (and possibly were contemplating my future in psychiatry!), instead I asked them why they had obeyed me. Why did a ‘lowly’ ST4 get them to do something they did not want to do and did not feel particularly comfortable with? The answer lies in the conclusions Milgram made after his famous ‘shocking’ experiment into conformity. I had power given to me as the presenter and therefore requests, even unusual ones, were complied with.


As psychiatrists, we inevitably have power over our patients. They arrive at our clinics or on our ward recognising (mostly) their need for our help. The result is that they will try to comply with our requests even when it causes them some distress. A person suffering from schizophrenia may find it very difficult to completely trust others who offer them medication, yet the doctor-patient relationship will more than likely help persuade them. Another patient suffering from depression may not believe that the therapy you advocate will actually result in any change in mood, however they may allow you to book a therapist because they feel the need to be compliant.


This ‘power’ can furthermore be very useful in certain situations, especially persuading a patient to take life saving medication, however, does it actually result in the patient changing their mind? I would argue that it does not.


The patient still retains their own viewpoint, with possibly no fundamental shift in their attitude, and may merely be obeying commands. The result is that during the clinic session a psychiatrist can feel a false sense of satisfaction when the patient agrees with them about the best course of treatment to take, but in reality they are just being compliant. The depressed patient who does not believe therapy will help may without question allow you to book a therapist for them, but then not actually turn up to the appointments. The patients who are advised to stop abusing drugs or alcohol may nod along during the clinic session, but find there is no motivation to change outside of the clinic room.


To truly change someone’s mind you have to first understand why they have made that decision or have that opinion in the first place.


Taking time to listen and consider all the reasons why a patient may not wish to comply with your opinion can be critical to treatments that rely on a patient’s own motivation.


Remove some of a patient’s need to be compliant by telling them that while you are able to advise what the best evidence-based treatments available are, they are the experts on themselves and will therefore be best placed to know which option will work best for them.


Once you have a full understanding about why the patient holds a particular opinion or attitude, various techniques can be deployed to help the patient understand your recommendations for their treatment.


These techniques may have to be deployed in stages, over a number of sessions, depending on the nature of the change that needs to occur. Techniques used in motivational therapy can be very useful when trying to truly change a patient’s mind about something. You could start educating your patient by simply giving them a few salient facts, backed up with some written information for them to browse outside of the clinic room. This can be useful when the patient does not have a formed opinion about the treatment being offered. In other situations, such as when recommending abstinence from illicit drugs or alcohol, more formal psycho-educational techniques will be needed and could form a portion of the clinical sessions with the patient.


Ultimately, educating the patient and empowering them to make the change themselves will result in a patient that is far more motivated to attempt the change than one who is simply being obedient.


16 August 2016

Give me a B! Give me an A! Give me a P!

Well, hello there! Did you know that as a College trainee, you’re entitled to free access to the British Association for Psychopharmacology (BAP)’s online Continuing Professional Development (CPD) resource? No? Well you are! We’ve teamed up with the BAP to offer you this benefit.


Signing up is as quick and as easy as B-A-P:


1. Login to TrOn using your College user details


2. Go to ‘My TrOn’


3. Click on the link at the bottom of the page, which will direct you to the BAP website


3. Login or Register on the BAP website


4. Once logged in you will be directed to the BAP user homepage


5. Click the 'Subscribe' button to subscribe to the online CPD at the discounted rate.


Let us know if you need any help. Or just give us a cheer: Getting free stuff is so fun, we think TrOn is number one!


Just to note...

  • If you’ve forgotten your details so you can’t access TrOn or the BAP discount, get in touch with the College Membership Department and they can remind you.

  • You must be registered with the College to take advantage of this benefit. Unfortunately, subscribers to TrOn only are not eligible.


27 July 2016

Spot the difference

You may have noticed a change in the air, some new blood, a fresh perspective and a veritable shake up with our TrOn module format.


A new era is upon us. Winter is coming...STOP! No this is not a salute to GoT, but a heads-up to say that TrOn now exists in scroll through. We have recently published our first two scroll through style modules – more mobile and tablet friendly, less clicking and more flicking.


These scroll through modules differ to the older ‘click through’ format in that pages will be longer, as they now comprise of a full section; there may be more ‘pop-up’ links for interactive elements and maybe even more strategically placed videos and images to aid the learning process for trainees.


Speaking to my fellow content and trainee editors, I asked them what they liked best about these new scroll throughs: ‘This is a beautiful thing. Oh how I wish I'd had this when I was doing MRCPsych!’, ‘Looks good’ and ‘Great job, I know how much work went into this’. The authors have been pleased as punch with the new look as well, with virtual smiles beaming from here to there. However don’t take our word for it, try them out yourself and if you have any further feedback to offer please fill in the survey at the end of each module you complete and tell us what you like (or dislike).


Coming soon

We will be launching a link from our TrOn modules to Portfolio Online, where upon completion of each module you will be able to save reflective notes and the module information to your own Portfolio Online. Watch this space!


6 July 2016

Drop the mic, yeah drop the mic right – post-Congress roundup

It was not as big as X Factor on a Saturday night or as flashy as a Kardashian red carpet outfit, but TrOn goes Glee! gave a winning performance Thursday lunch time at the Trainees Lounge, RCPsychIC 2016.


To start off the fun we had a spectacular pre-session entry from Meenie, who unfortunately could not attend the Congress, but offered her melodic stylings, singing her heart out and teaching us, not what love is all about, but what a neuron is.



This entry surpassed all expectations, so much so that I thought maybe the competition was over?


But as the old adage goes: It’s not over until the....(well you know the rest) and we had some competitive teams vying for the ‘ultimate study pack’ prize with their creative creations.


Some of our runners up submitted the following classics, using the modules Pharmacokinetics: Part 1 and Types of cell in the nervous system for inspiration.


For the general principles of pharmacokinetics we have:


  • MADE: Metabolism, Absorption, Distribution, Elimination.


Teaching us about the various methods of drug administration:


  • Try Oral Sweets Rather Sneakily In Iceland (imagine an Eskimo scoffing sweets): Topical, Oral, Sublingual, Rectal, Subcutaneous, Intramuscular, Inhalation.


Thank you to both Daniel Cooper and Alex Smith who contributed these little beauties.


However the ‘Grand Poobah’ of them all came from our infectiously enthusiastic winners: Kanika (or should I say ‘Captain High-5’), Brenda, George and Catrin. These four trainees gave us not only an outstanding mnemonic but also embodied the fun and spirit of the session – making learning fun!


Without further adieu here it is – sing it if you dare:


Mitochondria is the energy in my heart

Lysosomes break me apart

The nucleus controls who I'll be

Golgi apparatus wraps around me

Like the myelin around an axon

Energy branches into the dendrites

Dendrites branch into your world

To the synapses where neurotransmitters are hurled

You're my rough Nissl substance with your ribosomes

You make the protein which completes me!


Kanika, George, Brenda and Catrin are all CT2 trainees. Kanika is in the Oxford deanery, currently working in the community in High Wycombe and hopes to do psychotherapy in the future. Brenda, George and Catrin are in Severn deanery and Brenda and Catrin are also working in the community. Amazingly they all only met George on the Thursday and seem to have already bonded through TrOn. 



Thank you everyone for contributing on the day and especially to our master of ceremonies, Amy Manley, who I thought would perhaps break into song for us at one point, but sadly it was not to be.


Be on the lookout for more TrOn fun, modules and new improvements in the coming weeks and keep an eye out for what we have in store for next year’s Congress.


20 June 2016


The trainees have spoken and the module with the most votes is (drum roll please).........


Pharmacokinetics: Part 1


In a surprise twist however we have decided to also offer a place to the runner up module (this also gives you a bit more choice and inspiration to assist in creating your winning mnemonic):


Types of cell in the nervous system


These two modules will be used in the TrOn goes Glee! session in the Trainees Lounge on Thursday 30th from 13:15 at the College’s International Congress (#RCPsychIC). So read them, learn them, memorise and devour these modules, and start thinking about some great song lyrics or mnemonics you can create.


Click on this link for some helpful hints and tips.


Also for those of you who are not able to make our little event, please feel free to tweet (via PTC Twitter feed) or email your mnemonic creations to TrOn: and we will publish the best ones on our TrOn pOst.


Warm up those vocal cords and we look forward to singing, I mean seeing you at the Congress!


6 June 2016

eLearning at the #RCPsychIC 2016

The Online Hub will be returning to the College Stand again this year for the #RCPsychIC 2016.


Our engaging and reliable eLearning websites – CPD Online and Trainees Online – have a lot more to offer this year.


CPD Online has a wealth of learning modules and podcasts that can be used for up to 25 CPD hours per year, with now over 180 modules and more than 90 podcasts available.


Trainees Online (TrOn) has almost 30 modules published now covering the basic sciences that can be used for both training and teaching, with learning materials uniquely aligned with the MRCPsych syllabus. Plus there will be a new link from the TrOn modules to Portfolio Online to be unveiled at the TrOn goes Glee! event in the Trainees Lounge on Thursday 30th June, 13:15-13:45pm (further details below).


Portfolio Online will of course be joining the Hub (available on Thursday) with staff on hand to answer any questions about your account or how you can register to build your electronic repository of achievements and workplace based assessment.


So come and meet some of the team behind the scenes who build the modules and work with our wonderful authors. Ask for a one-to-one demonstration of these sites or just stop by for a chat. We look forward to meeting you!


Remember to let us know what module you will be voting for (vote here) or if you will be attending the Congress, then please post a comment on the PTC Twitter feed #TrOnpOst, #RCPsychIC.


23 May 2016

TrOn goes Glee!

Get your Gleek On and come tune up with Trainees Online at the International Congress 2016. 


Thursday 30th June, 13:15 – 13:45pm in the Trainees Lounge 


Join a flipped classroom, working on a Trainees Online (TrOn) module of your choosing. Using mnemonics and the power of musical lyrics as tools to help you remember essential terms and elements within the module, we will be asking you to contribute with your own original creations.


Plus Portfolio Online will be joining the session to demonstrate new elements and links from TrOn.


Prize pack for the winning mnemonic, which will be published on TrOn pOst.


Note: please bring a laptop or tablet to this session.


Whether or not you can attend, you can get involved

Vote here for the module you think will inspire the most creative, prize-winning mnemonic or song lyrics when trainees get their Gleek on.


3 May 2016

TrOn pOst bulletin – hot off the press!

BJPsych AdvancesNot one but two articles relating to trainees and training have been included in the latest May 2016 edition of BJPsych Advances.


The first: The MRCPsych post-2015: preparing trainees and improving courses by Jayne Greening, Erin Turner, Gareth Rees and Caroline Winkle.


This article outlines the changes that have taken place in the MRCPsych curriculum and examinations and the various approaches to training that educators can take to support trainees with their learning.


The second: Being a College tutor for psychiatry trainees by Prakash Hosalli.


‘A College tutor (formerly known as clinical tutor) is a consultant National Health Service (NHS) doctor responsible for the organisation and delivery of education, high-quality training and learning opportunities for core trainees in psychiatry working in an NHS trust.'


If you are interested in being a tutor or even postgraduate teaching than this is the article for you.


Both these articles highlight the importance of good quality education and training, adapting to the changing requirements of the trainees and incorporating initiatives such as TrOn to blend learning with key face-to-face clinical practice. 


You may also be interested in...

And the commentary related to it: Will the journal club survive? by Tom MacLaren and James Warner.


20 April 2016

TrOn pOst – Book Club #1

Welcome to the inaugural TrOn pOst Book Club.


Did you know that Trainees Online is part of the department that also produces all the RCPsych publications?


Are you aware that one of our TrOn published authors has also co-authored an RCPsych publication?


Could you name the RCPsych book of the month?


If you have not yet had a chance to check out the publications pages on the RCPsych website, then STOP what you are doing right now and click HERE.


With a generous scope of books by specialty, there are a number of titles to inspire, engage, or even to support you with studying for your all important MRCPsych exams.


The latest book of the month, Core Skills for the CASC (written by James Woollard and Josie Jenkinson), gives practical advice on how to prepare thoroughly for the Clinical Assessment of Skills and Competencies (CASC) exam. Detailed advice is given on exam preparation, including 12 mock stations from which trainees can try out their newly acquired techniques from skills learned in the initial chapters of the book.


Another title to consider is one of our very own TrOn authors, Adam B Joiner’s, co-authored publication Passing the ARCP: Successful Portfolio-Based Learning (co- written with Samuel P Dearman, Samantha Abbott and Damien Longson). This book gives clear and simple advice of how each trainee needs to maintain their portfolio in order to meet the required curriculum competencies to progress to the next year of training.


These are just a sample of titles that are now available, so stay tuned to see what other brain expanders come hot off the press in future Book Club pOsts.   


And so we close this Book Club session with a thought and a question:


Using all available resources the College can offer does not only include the book variety. Remember your network of colleagues, peers and fellow trainees can be an invaluable rich source of information as well as great partners in brainstorming and quick quizzing.   


Are you ready to become a consultant psychiatrist?



Love talking books or have something to add about any of the TrOn pOsts, then please post a comment on the PTC Twitter feed #TrOnpOst.


7 April 2016

The TrOn 2-minute treatment #2  – the study guide

Highlighters at the ready trainees!


With the examination date for Paper B hurtling towards us on the 12th April we thought here at TrOn central we would offer some helpful tips and suggestions to support you during your study sessions.


This time we enlisted the help of some of our illustrious TrOn authors (and your fellow trainees) to give their ‘two bob’s worth’ on what works best when needing to focus the old neurotransmitters.


The study place:


  • a cupboard-like study with only room enough for a desk and chair – similar to a cocoon


  • the local library – find a quiet corner and settle in (this also stops temptation of turning on the telly and getting hooked on Storage Wars, Wiki trivia pages or the hundreds of talking cat videos on YouTube)


  • your favourite java spot – grab that couch, order that double macchiato and cheese toastie, slap on those headphones and get in the zone


  • any common will do – for those of you who need blue sky and green space, make the great outdoors your study zone.


The study props:


  • a blanket – works twofold, in that it is a serenity mechanism and a warmth substitute when you have no radiator


  • the trusty highlighter (maybe two or three of these and different colours – puts the fun into studying)


  • flash cards – just for the tricky parts


  • the ultimate playlist – your favourite tracks to study to


  • pot of tea/plunger of coffee – and don’t skimp, treat yourself to your favourite brew


  • drink plenty of water!


  • a treat to aspire to – almond croissant mmmmmmmm....


  • walk, run, stretch, swim, fly – activity can help keep your mind in good shape.


The study tips:


  • find your optimal time to learn – evenings may not work as getting to sleep afterwards could prove to be difficult when the brain juice is flowing


  • remember to plan your relaxation sessions too – don’t get caught trying to chill out in front of your books, find a different time and space for your happy place


  • make sure to read around each topic (especially for the clinical parts) it may make it easier to think of examples, not just facts


  • identify those learning objectives – this can help to focus your study sessions


  • read, repeat, memorise, read, repeat memorise


  • finally - look up travel arrangements to the exam venue in advance and leave plenty of time to get there (then you won’t be sweating buckets on the day if there are any disruptions).


Good luck to everyone who will be sitting the exam and just a reminder that critical review and clinical topic modules will be available on the TrOn website in the near future!


Write this down...

Stick a post-it on your fridge with the words: I will pass the MRCPsych Paper A/B exam on the (add date of exam).
A positive mindset can keep you motivated.


23 March 2016

Reflections from the Trainee Editor - the journey so far and plans for the future

by Genevieve Holt (Trainee Editor)


(Published in the PTC Magazine, Registrar, February 2016)


When I applied for the job of Trainees Online (TrOn) Trainee Editor two years ago, TrOn was a small but extremely enthusiastic team behind a great idea. Wendy Burn, in her role as Dean of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, found an opportunity to develop a learning resource for MRPCsych preparation that would harness the experience of post-membership trainees and make it available to the entire cohort of core trainees in the form of online learning modules aligned to the membership examination syllabus.


My role started with the task of pairing volunteer trainees with specific areas of the Basic Sciences syllabus, which had been divided up into approximately 70 chunks. Each of these prospective modules was intended to be a one hour online learning experience that would be accompanied by key reading; in combination, these would provide trainee learners with a balance of taught and self-directed materials to prepare for the MRCPsych. I have now been involved in numerous recruitment rounds, seeking trainees with recent MRCPsych experience as authors or co-authors for modules.


I am utterly astonished by the wealth of talent that has emerged every time we have sought to commission further modules. Reflecting on the incredible potential of colleagues who are such wonderful teachers, TrOn not only offers a learning aid for junior trainees but provides an amazing platform for senior trainees with a passion for education. I have no doubt that any sensible trainee will be considering their CV as they apply to write a module, but the altruism of this group is also overwhelming; an immense amount of work goes into creating a module. The positive attitude of trainees during the lengthy module production process, and attention to detail that will benefit the learner audience has impressed me and absolutely everybody else who has witnessed TrOn’s progress.


A handful of College staff with experience of online learning with CPD Online were identified as the skilled group who could transform trainee authors’ written content and ideas about interactive learning into beautiful, engaging modules, and as much as I believed I would never (ever) touch MRCPsych material again once my own membership was behind me, my inner geek now has to admit that these modules make you want to learn. See for yourself!


All trainees registered with the College can log in and access the materials using their RCPsych login details. Core trainees are in for a treat, with quality-assured materials organised around the syllabus at your fingertips. You can use TrOn to nudge your supervisors to be involved in your MRCPsych revision, using discussions about the clinical relevance of module (and, therefore, syllabus) content to focus supervision sessions according to your needs. Higher trainees, we have with a sense of pride and a hint of trauma held onto our revision notes, thinking “one day they might be useful for clinical work”, but it’s time to dispose of them. TrOn is up to date and is quality assured by experts in each subject area, so you can use the modules to top up on fundamental principles that underpin psychiatric practice (which were miraculously wiped from your memory the day you passed the CASC). Of course, you will already have spotted the opportunity to use the modules to prepare your own teaching sessions; nobody enjoys being outdone by the Core trainee. (See Amy Manley's post below for ideas on incorporating TrOn into your teaching.) 


Several months ago, TrOn was granted continued support from the PTC and College, enabling it to expand the scope of modules beyond basic sciences (knowledge of which is assessed in Paper A) to cover critical review and clinical topics (Paper B). We have welcomed two additional trainee editors to the team, Amy Manley and Clare Fenton, both of whom have brought with them new perspectives and creativity to the project, and who have significantly increased the capacity of the team to move modules forward across the entirety of the MRCPsych syllabus. An ambitious schedule of module production lies ahead, but we recognise how important it is for learners to be able to access as much content as possible that is relevant to the examinations during the difficult but rewarding process of attaining membership.


Two years after becoming involved with TrOn, having the privilege of working with so many peers across the world (yes, even trainees now living abroad are writing modules) makes this one of my most treasured experiences as a trainee. I am very grateful for the incredible support that you as trainees have contributed to this valuable project; the dedication of authors and constructive feedback from both authors and learners has shaped the venture and continues to guide us in improving it as we go.


TrOn is in the process of being linked directly to Portfolio Online, to enable users to upload details of modules they have completed at the click of a button. The more you use TrOn and tell us about your experience, the better it will become. TrOn would love to hear from you if you have any ideas you would like to contribute, wish to become involved as an author, or have feedback to share with the team.


Meet the Trainee Editors and the Staff team.


2 March 2016

Teaching with TrOn - flipping your classroom

by Amy Manley (Trainee Editor and author of our upcoming module Attitudes)


With over 25 modules published thus far, TrOn is increasingly becoming an essential resource for trainees revising the basic sciences for their MRCPsych exams, but its use isn’t restricted to independent learning. For core psychiatry course facilitators, TrOn modules are a great way to check how your teaching compares and could even change the way you teach.


In the South West, we used TrOn as part of our training on the core psychiatry course, asking trainees to complete a TrOn module before attending their psychopharmacology teaching day. Ensuring trainees understood the basic material before entering the classroom meant valuable face-to-face teaching time could be spent reinforcing learning through group exercises and applying principles to clinical practice though case discussions.


This 'flipped classroom'*, 'blended learning'* approach is about more than trying out new-fangled teaching methods with catchy names:


  • it’s about allowing trainees to learn at a pace that suits them

  • it’s about ensuring the trainees have a similar background knowledge of your subject, making it easier to pitch your face-to-face teaching at the right level

  • most importantly it’s about getting trainees not just to learn information but to apply it to scenarios they are likely to encounter in clinical practice, so they can see its relevance to patient care and develop as psychiatrists.


Clearly introducing these elements into the core psychiatry course won’t be without teething problems - in our first attempt some trainees hadn’t completed the module in advance. This method may take some getting used to, but feedback was very positive, and the way this can adapt to the differing needs of trainees taking exams at different times is really useful in this group of learners. We’re looking forward to trying it again.


TrOn is freely available to all trainees in psychiatry and is mapped to the MRCPsych syllabus, which makes it the perfect resource to complement your teaching. If you teach on a core psychiatry course and would like to use TrOn, but don’t have access to the relevant module, then get in contact with the TrOn team:


*Defining of terms

'Blended learning' involves combining elearning with face-to-face methods in teaching.
'Classroom flipping' involves asking students to do some learning (read a paper, do a TrOn module, watch a video etc.) prior to face-to-face teaching.


2 February 2016

Number crunching

You may have noticed a flurry of new TrOn modules recently.


We are now offering 24 out of our planned 63 modules covering the basic science topics on the MRCPsych syllabus. We have published 5 new modules in just 3 weeks on a diverse range of topics, from pharmacokinetics to the mental health of ethnic minorities.


Why so many now? Because we are committed to making our content available to you as soon as it has completed our submission and review processes:


  • To reach our goals of providing modules on the entire MRCPsych syllabus (we have 39 clinical and critical review ones on the way too!)

  • To give you immediate access to our resources to help you learn for the College membership exams.


If you want to keep an eye on our progress and to see how our modules relate to the syllabus, see our module lists (basic science and clinical and critical review) and syllabus pages.


TrOn is for trainees and so we welcome your feedback to improve. You can leave comments at the end of every module you complete about what we’re getting right and what we could do better. You can also email us your thoughts on TrOn at any time: We always look into any feedback we receive, and act on it as required.


Here are some nice pie charts to show our progress so far:


Basic science module progress


Clinical and critical review module progress

Watch out for even more modules soon!


5 January 2016

The TrOn 2-minute treatment

Ask the Wellness Dog for a treatment

Hello all authors and future TrOn writers!


With a brand new year upon us we thought we would start our own New Year’s resolutions with the first of our TrOn 2-minute treatments.


Not quite the cure for all ills, but a few key suggestions to help you keep on track when writing your modules.


The Checklist: (keep this handy to tick things off as you go)


Simple but easy to forget:


  • Does your module have an introduction? 

  • Have you clearly referenced all tables, diagrams, images? 

  • Have you used direct quotes but forgotten to add quotation marks or cite the reference in the text? 

  • Have you included at least three recap questions at the end of every section? 

  • We like to see your smiling face so remember to send us a photo for the author’s page


Stuck with how to change your research into your own words?


  • Have you thought about how you would present the topic if teaching it? 

  • Have you tried presenting it in a table format using your own words in bullet point? 

  • What about changing the content into an interactive activity? 

  • Have you asked your consultant or a fellow author for assistance?


Before you decide to submit your first draft, have you given it to a trusted colleague to look over and get their feedback?


Remember this is your perspective on the topic; we want to read your ‘voice’, so teach us what you know.


The TrOn team are also available should you need further support:  


10 September 2015

Try TrOn sample pagesTaste test TrOn

So you’ve excitedly been gossiping about TrOn with your friends, but find it hard to explain what it is?


Do they think it sounds more like a movie than an eLearning website?


Feel the frustration no longer as the latest initiative from the TrOn team is now available to offer some helpful interactive tasters of our modules.


The TrOn team will now be adding links to various sample pages, interactive activities and even a newly formatted scroll-through module (coming soon) for punters to try.


These pages will be designed to promote the most recent modules as well as give you a taste of what our modules have to offer.


We encourage you to share, tweet and email these pages with others. Show your fellow trainees who are not yet familiar with the website and get them hooked on our free online learning resource.  



19 August 2015

TrOn Flash Mob at the RCPsychIC

The What and the Where:

At the International Congress 2015 TrOn Flash Mob event, trainees teamed up and went head to head in a competition that got them using the site to tackle questions relating to the MRCPsych syllabus and then tweeting about it.


The How:

To celebrate TrOn now being a year old, having officially launched at the RCPsychIC 2014, we decided to test your skill and knowledge of the TrOn modules with one big TrOn pop quiz – flash mob style. Led by Karl Scheeres (PTC Chair) and Genevieve Holt (TrOn Trainee Editor) this was presented like an en masse study session, but with time trials, charades-style ‘guess the answer’ challenges, and a host of questions to treasure hunt your way around the TrOn modules; plus a prize pack giveaway! This included an interview with Genevieve about the winning team's views on psychiatry and Trainees Online. 


The Who:

The winning team of four trainees come from diverse backgrounds and talk about their careers and experience of TrOn:


The winning teamAmy Allen used TrOn for the first time during the flash mob, and her first impression was that it is a well-organised and comprehensive learning resource, that would offer a useful support for MRCPsych learning. 


Amy describes being drawn to psychiatry because it offers the excitement of cutting edge neuroscience with the challenge of employing communication skills in a range of clinical settings. She feels inspired when she witnesses skilled interactions between clinicians and patients, and finds it extremely rewarding when a patient and/or their loved ones are enabled through psychoeducation. 


Sharon Cuthbert is a higher specialist trainee in general adult psychiatry, training in Sussex. She is in the process of writing a module for Trainees Online and has enjoyed exploring other modules on the site. Sharon in the final charades round 'I think it's a fantastic resource for revision - both for exam purposes, and to keep up to date and consolidate knowledge. I also think the interactive aspects make it easier to use and more engaging than more traditional revision strategies and aids.' 


Sharon believes this is a career choice offering variety and flexibility, and is especially interested in the potential for gaining endorsements and undertaking specialist work in areas like liaison, addictions and early intervention. 


She is motivated at work by seeing the benefits that medical, psychological and social interventions offer mental health patients. She recalls how supervision influenced her career choice: 'As an F2 my consultant encouraged me to make visits and explore different areas of psychiatry. I was just at the point of choosing whether to specialise in psychiatry or not, and I think this helped to convince me that it was a good idea.' 


Often busy with her young family, Sharon also makes time for community activities, such as singing in a local choir.


Howard Ryland is training to be a forensic psychiatrist, particularly enjoying working at the interface between mental health and the law.


Outside of work, he is an enthusiastic traveller and has recently been learning Japanese. He enjoys being able to make a difference, both through direct patient contact, or through less direct means, such as teaching or quality improvement work. 


When being supervised as a junior doctor, he has benefitted most from being challenged and shown areas for improvement; 'I think that it is vital to have supervisors who are able to make you question yourself in a supportive way.' 


He has contributed to Trainees Online as an author, and describes having learned a great deal in the process: 'It is a fantastic resource, which I wish had been in place when I was studying for the MRCPsych exams!'

Two syllables, sounds like.....


Anna Rose-Morris is in her first year of Broad Based Training, which she was keen to undertake due to the breadth of experience it offers. 'Medicine seems to be becoming more complex, with an ageing population and increasing demand on the NHS. I felt that I wanted to take responsibility for my training to ensure I had some experience across the range of specialties.' 


In her daily work, she enjoys connecting with people and is inspired by a desire to learn and the privilege to give something back at the same time: 'I enjoy working with people and listening to their stories.'


She remembers positive supervision experiences, for example in paediatrics and psychiatry, where senior staff were approachable and made it easy to discuss patients. She used TrOn for the first time at the flash mob.


6 July 2015

A word from our Trainee Editor on TrOn...

by Genevieve Holt - ST5 Psychiatry, Clinical Fellow in Quality Improvement, East London NHS Foundation Trust


(Published in the PTC Magazine, Registrar, June 2015)


Preparing for membership examinations is a major focus of every psychiatry trainee’s professional development; it is a source of great anxiety, as well as – eventually - a tremendous sense of achievement. From my own experience of MRCPsych preparation, I know how stressful this period can be: struggling to balance work with out of hours commitments, postgraduate study, and what might be recognisable as a personal life (possibly in that order of priority.)


Trainees Online (TrOn), an invaluable resource that the College is developing for trainees.Alongside clinical training programmes and MRCPsych courses, there are a variety of learning resources to help prepare one for membership; everybody who has already got through the exams will have accrued a list of websites, textbooks, podcasts, revision guides, banks of mock examination questions and courses that are handed down from each cohort of trainees to the next. Most of these materials have not, however, been endorsed by the Royal College of Psychiatrists, making it difficult for learners to be confident that their revision choices represent a good investment of time and money when it comes to exam preparation.


It is for this reason that I am thrilled to be involved with Trainees Online (TrOn), an invaluable resource that the College is developing for trainees. This series of online learning modules is being designed to support learners through the process of MRCPsych preparation, and is free to trainees. TrOn aims to facilitate access to materials that promote the learning that is required to be a psychiatrist with membership status. The set of TrOn online learning modules is an ongoing piece of work that initially covered basic science topics but is being expanded to include modules for clinical topics in the exam syllabus as well.


Trainees will be reassured to know that every TrOn module is checked by the College Examinations Panel for alignment to the MRCPsych syllabus and examinations. In my opinion, however, the feature that makes the modules particularly special is that they are written by people who have recent experience of the MRCPsych examinations. Your post-membership colleagues are tailoring the materials to learning needs of pre-membership trainees, capturing not only the knowledge needed to pass the exams but also the perspective of a peer learner. Experts in each subject field scrutinise the content to ensure materials accurately reflect current knowledge and its application, and content editors format the modules to create an engaging online interface. The result is far more than an online textbook; it is the learning experience every post-membership trainee wishes was available when we took our exams!


As the complement of live modules grows to cover an increasing proportion of the syllabus, I hope you will find them useful revision tools for exam preparation, as well as trustworthy resources for refreshing knowledge and teaching. Once you have registered to use the modules, the system can generate a list of modules you have accessed, should you wish to use these in supervision or to supplement your portfolio as part of your Annual Review of Competency and Progression. The TrOn team are extremely keen to learn as we go along, and welcome any comments or feedback that module users can offer.


Good luck!


22 June 2015

TrOn is going to the Congress!

International Congress 2015

Trainees Online (TrOn) is once again going to be at the RCPsych International Congress in Birmingham, 29 June to 2 July 2015. We are hoping to meet as many delegates as possible: from trainees who use TrOn modules to prepare for the exams, to course teachers, to existing and potential authors and reviewers.


Anyone interested in TrOn is warmly invited to visit the Online Hub, on the College stand (shared with CPD Online and Portfolio Online), throughout the Congress. Here, members of the team will be available to discuss TrOn and to offer demonstrations of the site.


Our Editor, Stuart Leask, will be chairing a panel on ‘Getting your message out there’, 11.50-13.05 on Tuesday 30 June. Each Editor of the various College journals will be offering their expertise on how to get published and our very own Trainee Editor, Genevieve Holt, will be discussing writing modules for online learning resources.


During the Tuesday afternoon tea break (from 4.15pm), the PTC Chair, Karl Scheeres and Genevieve will be leading TrOn Flash Mob in Hall 10b – pop quiz meets mass study session. In the spirit of a Flash Mob, we are keeping the full details guarded until the day but there will be a prize pack giveaway, opportunities to engage with social media, and questions and tasks based around the TrOn modules. 


We look forward to meeting you at the Congress. If you have any questions in advance or during the event, please email And don’t forget #TrOnFlashMob!


13 May 2015

Trainees Online Trainee Editor position

Are you a post-membership psychiatry trainee interested in gaining experience in eLearning by joining the Advisory Board of Trainees Online?Trainee Editor post


If so, we would like to hear from you. We are currently inviting applications for the role of Trainee Editor to work with us on Trainees Online.


Responsibilities include but are not limited to:


  • supporting the continued development of new modules


  • improving the effectiveness of Trainees Online as a learning tool for the MRCPsych exams


  • planning for the sustainability of completed modules. 


We are delighted to have the opportunity to welcome fresh ideas to this large-scale education project and would encourage applications from trainees keen to apply their skills creatively to all aspects of designing and delivering Trainees Online.


See the Posts for Members page on the College website for a full description of the role and details on how to apply. The deadline for applications is 5pm on Thursday 19 June; shortlisted candidates will be invited to the College for interviews on Monday 6 July.


Please note: this position is unpaid and will be shared with the existing Trainee Editor. The term will be one year, initially, subject to review by the Editor of Trainees Online.


Please direct any questions and send applications (500 word cover letter and CV) to the Editorial Assistant. If you have any informal enquiries for the current Trainee Editor, please email Dr Genevieve Holt.


We look forward to receiving your applications.


Please note: the deadline for applications has now passed.


13 January 2015

Trainees Online

by Hayley Andrews, author of ‘Learning Theory’


Trainees OnlineA medical student attached to my team recently told me that he’d felt somewhat overwhelmed the previous week when attached to a Consultant who had expected him to know the names, pharmacodynamics, side effects and dosing of numerous psychotropic drugs. He had gone away, and spent hours poring over textbooks, agonisingly trying to memorise the minutiae about these drugs, which of course was unnecessary. The end result was a medical student who became anxious and unreceptive to the information that he in fact needed to know to help him achieve those objectives laid out by the medical school’s curriculum to become a competent FY1, who knew enough about psychiatry to make him a safe practitioner.


I’m sure this is a familiar feeling to all of us, both during our medical student years and then our core training. How much to know? In what detail? When to stop? By the time we’ve become psychiatry Core Trainees, in many ways the breadth of what we are expected to know has narrowed down, but the depth deepened. All of us will look up to Consultants who experientially of course are by far and away the wisest and most knowledgeable when it comes to the working expertise of navigating complex inpatient or outpatient situations that no text book can teach. But would your Consultant be best placed to advise you regarding how to prepare for your MRCPsych? Unless they have only recently become Consultants, many of them will have sat the old Part 1 and 2 exam, and be unfamiliar with both the MCQ/EMI format and CASC.


From the GMC there is now a move to promote buddying/mentoring, particularly at times of transition in order to prevent burnout and stress; recognising the importance of having a compatriot who may have just that bit more experience. They can convey not only explicit knowledge but also perhaps elements of the hidden curriculum or simply the know-how of the ways to get certain things accomplished. Perhaps then, those new members of the college, having recently passed through their core training and examinations could be the experts our core trainees could draw upon?


Recognising the wealth of knowledge that may be available within those who have recently attained their MRCPsych, the Royal College invited new members to become authors for Trainees Online. This resource, is an online learning forum which trainees preparing for their MRCPsych examinations can turn to. The beauty of it is that it is written by those who themselves have been there, done that and got the T-shirt (or certificate in this case). Not only that, but this is the only resource that has been directly developed from the Royal College curriculum before being reviewed by an expert in the given field and the exams panel before publication. Moreover, at present it’s free! This is a stark contrast to the resources available when I was preparing for my exams, which were costly, often lengthy in terms of reading, I feel covering more information than was necessary and not quality assured.


The basic sciences syllabus has been subdivided into chunks or modules, to cover subjects that will be tested in Paper A of the new format membership written examination, covering the scientific and theoretical basis of psychiatry. Each module has been written by a post-membership psychiatrist, the majority of whom are trainees, and consists of material specifically written to meet the objectives developed by the author (and approved by the exams panel) before some MCQs and EMIs to help the learner consolidate their reading. Each of the modules should take around 1 hour to complete, hopefully making them something that is accomplishable after a day at work.


As an author for TrOn, I unexpectedly felt a strong sense of responsibility for ensuring the content I provided was accurate and presented in a way that would suit most learners. I was also acutely aware that amongst my peers I did not want to get anything wrong! I wrote my module while undertaking a Masters in Medical Education, I therefore scrutinised what I did both educationally and in terms of its content. What the process did emphasise to me was that in this instance (for exam preparation) I was the expert as to what it was people needed to know, and felt empowered to say a polite ‘no’ if I felt again like my medical student example above, that a field expert suggested more detail should be included. Now that several modules have gone online, I understand that core trainees are eager for more modules to be released, and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.


Not only does TrOn help core trainees prepare for their membership exams, it can be used as evidence of CPD. Working in this way towards our CPD is something that we will all of course be expected to do throughout our working lives. The Royal College already has a successful and varied selection of CPD online modules and podcasts that Consultants are able to access and use to contribute to their annual CPD credits. The use of eLearning in this way allows innovative and up to date materials to be disseminated widely and increases accessibility. Not only can we learn now by sitting with a text book in a library, but from an online module on a tablet, a podcast on our drive home or a Ted Talk once at home. TrOn in my opinion is helping to start core trainees on their journey towards their continued development as higher trainees and consultants. The move from online learning written by our peers in preparation for exams, to online learning to ensure our continued development as professionals will become a natural and seamless transition as development in this way becomes more and more embedded in our culture.


A space for authors and users of TrOn to discuss the function of current and future TrOn modules in their training.


If you are interested in contributing to the TrOn pOst or would like to write a review of a module please email us at: 

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