Playing the GP role: CSA on the Move

Michael Poplawski is a GPST3 and author of “CSA on the Move – A Practical Audio Guide to the Clinical Management of Common RCGP CSA Scenarios”.

“Statistically speaking, by the time we turn 30, most of us are pursuing or will have pursued up to five different professional roles. Build your own website today!” – convinces a 30-odd year old with thick black frame glasses and a sparkle in her eye.

We are problem-solvers, sorter-outers and we are the “Ultimate Pragmatists”

Five roles, eh? Most of us adopt at least five different roles in a routine morning surgery: the skin guy, the ear nose and throat guy, the heart, lung, mental health… The variety of general practice not only forces us to do so, but entitles us. We are not unlike ‘faceless men’, wearing different masks as we creep up on our patients to LOOK into their throats. We are problem-solvers, sorter-outers and, as a well renowned once GP now sexual health educator defined GPs at one of our weekly teaching sessions, we are the “Ultimate Pragmatists”. We adopt these roles because there is a need for it and this is what we are trained to do. And these aren’t just roles in our professional lives. The practice I work in has roughly 8000 patients and, amongst the practicing GPs there, there is one soon to be published children’s books author, a mountain marathon runner at the tender age of 60 and a self-employed sound engineer and music producer (the last one being myself!). But back to the training…

The entirety of my GPST3 year can be easily summarised in 3 words: Clinical Skills Assessment. For those unfamiliar, the Clinical Skills Assessment (CSA) is the final and most important exam in one’s GP vocational training – a 13 station with 13 actors/role-players quick-fire of 10mins consultations with a two minute break in between (AND no access to google). This little break is just enough time to remove one mask and prepare to get the next one on. Preparation for the CSA is a feat in its own right. At one of our, again, weekly teachings and then post-teaching winging sessions, we started complaining about the lack of time to revise and balance full-time work, families, responsibilities with sit-down sessions to read guidelines and prepare our data gathering bits.

One colleague once said: “Hey, Mike, you do that music thing don’t you? Why don’t you write an audio something for us, like a CD, we can listen to in the car or something?” Ah, necessity, the mother of invention. And so I did. What started off as five tracks on a CD burned for friends, who happily informed they had it on repeat right up until their exam, nine months later has now turned into a three CD, 175 mins, 30 track professional audio publication aptly called “CSA on the Move”… [Check out the example above – Ed]

This is what GP training has taught me. Where there is a need, there’s a fix. Where there is a problem, there’s a solution. Where there is a will, there’s opportunity for all of us.

Featured photo: Lee Campbell

The British Journal of General Practice and BJGP Open are bringing research to clinical practice. BJGP Life is where we add the debate and opinion to help ensure everyone benefits from that research.

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6 years ago


5 years ago


5 years ago


Michael Poplawski
4 years ago

The 1st edition of CSA ON THE MOVE has officially sold out!

The 2nd edition with updated guidelines for 2020 and extra tips and tricks is available as a digital audiobook at

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