Anaesthetic exams are well known to be a challenging time in a trainee’s life. Exams occur unforgivingly around key life events, as we navigate the complexities of training, endless hospital rotations, new anaesthetic departments and personnel.
Balancing a challenging job then heading home to be confronted with piles of notes, nestling in the revision corner, mug rings marking the passage of time like growth rings in a tree. It is amazing what we learn, absorb, debunk and clarify in those months or years – the FRCA syllabus, much like the ANZCA in Australia/New Zealand, is a huge document and a library of books has been written on the material.
Chatting to any anaesthetic friends or colleagues will highlight there is only one way to pass the exams, which is through working hard, putting in time and lots of effort. Six months to a year for the written and a good two to four months for the SOE/OSCE seems to be standard time periods - although this is very subjective.
Having steered through the exam it became clear that feeling lost in the midst of expansive piles of notes was a common feeling; what topics had been covered? Was the detail enough? In which pile did I put that information? The final run up to the exam seemed to be all over the place, with a grubby syllabus, reams of hand drawn notes and books spread over the desk.
FinalPush is the outcome of this. It isn’t designed for the initial knowledge loading, but for the refinement. Summarised topics logically laid out with a feature to keep tabs on how you feel that topic sits in your understanding/memory banks – things we wanted when we were revising.
We split the syllabus into core areas like the exam, with sections for anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, physics, clinical specialities and a separate section for paediatrics, obstetrics, ICU, perioperative medicine and pain.
For those Consultants or SAS doctors involved with teaching, maybe taking on trainees regularly in theatre or being asked to take sessions in the department, we have tried to build a resource that can guide and refresh for this too. Each page has a simple structure, which can be used to test or just refresh key areas.
The Clinical and Specials section are written by clinicians with a specialist interest in those areas, to keep topics succinct and contemporary. Anatomy images were hand drawn using a fine artist in Bristol, Kristine Khan. They took over a year and a half to design, draw, label and upload.
For ongoing improvements, we are keeping an eye on developments in the exam syllabus, new discoveries in the world of anaesthesia that are deemed exam worthy, past questions and feedback to keep a resource that we hope will be useful for Trainees, Consultants and SAS doctors.