Studying for the frcpath haematology exam

The FRCPath, or ‘Fellowship Examination of the Royal College of Pathologists’, is a recognised postgraduate qualification in the field of pathology (including haematology) consisting of two parts. If you are a student undertaking the FRCPath haematology examinations you have already successfully completed a Medicine or Healthcare Sciences degree and are likely looking to take further strives forward along a haematological career by completing a Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT). FRCPath examinations are vigorously challenging both academically and clinically, ensuring those students who achieve a Fellowship are equipped for a career in an unsupervised, consultancy post. As such extensive revision and preparation are essential for students attempting the exams.

Part one of the FRCPath takes the form of two 3-hour long (more academically focussed) exams taken on the same day. As a student undertaking the exams you’ll not only want to be prepared for the entire curriculum but also the structure of the exam questions. The first is an essay exam comprising of four questions each on the four modules of blood transfusion, general haematology (including laboratory management), haematological oncology and haemostasis & thrombosis. The second is a multiple choice question (MCQ) exam containing 50 questions offering five different answers and 75 questions under an ‘extended matching’ (EMQ) format. The MCQ/EMQs test your knowledge on haematological disease, therapeutic modals and laboratory & clinical practices.

Using a variety of revision techniques, such as online interactive courses, note taking and undertaking practice questions, is highly recommended before attempting FRCPath part one examinations. This will help to ensure both your engagement with the content (procrastination, while focussing on such technical content, is real) and that you can consider the information in front of you in multi-dimensional ways. It is important to be able to remember and relay the important information in the right context within the essays as well as utilise your clinical knowledge and intuitions within the MCQ/EMQs.

Congratulations, upon completing part one of the FRCPath, you can move onto part two! Most students attempting FRCPath part two have obtained two to three years of speciality experience within the haematological field as it is such a stringent test of clinical competence with significant career-expanding rewards. FRCPath part two involves undertaking one oral and three written examinations taken over three days. The first two days will be the written exams, covering the three broad modules within the Haematology Training Curriculum: Morphology (3 hours, split equally between both short and long answer), Transfusion (2 hours) and Coagulation (2 hours). Each exam will require you to not only demonstrate your knowledge of the curriculum but also analyse and interpret data ranging from microscope slides, laboratory data and patient case information to provide diagnosis’s. 

As a student undertaking these written part two examinations months of extensive revision should be undertaken. Attempting practise questions to get a feeling for the examination style and to ensure you can relay the curriculums contents and provide the necessary analyses is of significant importance. Due to the vast contents and competences under evaluation the more interactive your studies the better. Online courses, slides and other media are great resources for your preparation.

The final stage of the FRCPath process is the oral examination on the final day of the part two. Structured as two back to back 30 minute examinations with two pairs of examiners. One covering Coagulation and Transfusion Medicine, the other General & Laboratory Haematology and Haematological Oncology. This last stage is predominately focussed on assessing your communication, ability to troubleshoot problems and provide good clinical judgements.

Upon completing and passing part two, you have demonstrated your competence and been awarded an FRCPath and CCT in haematology! And are now ready to step forward into a consultancy post.

Blood Academy is an e-learning platform produced to help students revise for their FRCPath examinations and obtain their CCT. Interactive, regularly updated content and resources have been produced with the sole aim of helping students develop and revise their haematology skill and knowledge set.

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