Doctors gettng dumber?
It appears so, at least in the UK
This study (free PDF avaialble), summarized in this news article, shows declining performance on the MRCP(UK). It sounds like this is something like Step III of the US national boards, taken after 18 months of residency (or its equivalent):
The examination can be taken eighteen months after graduation, and a high proportion of UK graduates take it at the earliest possible time, when they typically have five or six years of undergraduate education, a year of PRHO posts, and six months of SHO training.But only about 1/3 of grads take it, raising the possibility that the drop in scores is related to the population taking the test. The authors show some data that this is not the full explanation, but can't exclude it completely as an explanation.
I've never been completely convinced that these type of exams are that useful. No doctor practices in an environment where he can't look something up or ask for help. I'd rather have a doctor who knew a bit less, but also knew his limitations, than one who knew more but didn't know when to get help