For seven ED Registrars, a lot was riding on the outcome of the Emergency Registrar Australasian College for Emergency Medicine (ACEM) Primary Exam.
The exam tests student’s knowledge and understanding of the four basic sciences relating to emergency medicine – anatomy, pathology, physiology and pharmacology.
There are two components to the exam, a written primary examination containing up to 360 questions made up of select choice, multiple choice and extending matching question, and an oral exam.
Emergency Medicine Physician and Co-Director of Emergency Medicine Training Dr Raj Kathirgamanathan said students start studying and training nine months in advance.
“It is not an easy exam, it requires commitment and 15 to 20 hours a week of study so that’s why it is so important,” he said.
“We teach them every week with two hour teaching sessions for the written exam.”
The Primary Exam was scheduled to take place in August last year. But like many events in 2020, it was rescheduled to October due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Usually they study nine months in advance, but this class had more than a year due to COVID-19,” said Raj.
“It was a stressful period. It was a complete change for us all. We used to do face-to-face learning every week, but because of COVID-19, we had to change the way we teach so we were learning via Zoom or other ways and that requires a lot more preparation than face-to-face.
“And as educators, we also had to prepare a lot more.”
All students passed the primary and oral exams with flying colours and for more than four years, there has been a 100 per cent pass rate.
Student Katherine Watson said it was a welcome relief to have passed the exam.
“You always want everyone to succeed and with the protracted study time, most study cohorts don’t spend as much as time together so it makes it a bit different as well,” she said.
“It’s just one of those hoops that you need to jump through.”
Emergency Medicine Physician Phyllis Fu congratulated the students on passing the exam during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“They are fantastic,” she said.
“It’s a big journey. For the Primary Exam, the pass rate has been fantastic.”
“Now that they have cleared the first hurdle, they will then go into four years of advanced training so it gives them the green light to move on to the next stage which will have a combination of trauma, pediatrics and critical care before sitting their last set of exams.
“If they pass that, they have done all the exams and all the requirements to becoming Emergency Specialists.”