FRCPath in Haemotology – an overview

  • February 12, 2020
 

Overseas Haematologists wanting to secure a role in the UK via the postgraduate qualificaiton route will need to attain Fellowship of the Royal College of Pathologists or FRCPath in Haematology, a sub-specialty exam of FRCPath. FRCPath is the UK qualification and a GMC Recognised postgraduate route.

International Medical Graduates (IMGs) from any country in the world can sit the sub-specialty FRCPath in Haemotology examinations, provided certain eligibility criteria are met.

These are summarised below along with a broad look at the following topics:

What is FRCPath in Haematology?

Set against the Specialty Training Curriculum for Haematology, the examinations are designed to assess a trainee’s knowledge, skills and behaviours in field of Haematology. The exams recognise haematologists close to the end of their training who can demonstrate sufficient knowledge and technique for independent practice. 

In other words, completion of the full set of exams (Part 1 & 2) demonstrates your ability to work at consultant level.

Part 1 is usually taken in the UK at ST5 level, with Part 2 at the end of ST6 as they enter the final year of Specialty Training – ST7.

The exam is split into 2 parts:

Part 1 – two written papers sat on the same day, comprised of essay and multiple-choice questions.

Part 2 – held over three days, the exams comprise of three written components and one oral examination

FFRCPath, along with MRCP(UK), is a mandatory requirement for Specialist Registration in Haematology. You can read our overview on MRCP(UK) here.

Eligibility for FRCPath in Haematology:

For international candidates, the eligibility criteria for FRCPath specialty examinations is not particularly clear when looking online. IMG Connect spoke to the Royal College directly in an effort to clarify this. 

In brief, the Royal College do consider equivalents to NHS training programmes however, they do not have an agreed list of countries with accepted training programmes. As such, applications are treated on a case by case basis, so we advise speaking to the Royal College directly when making your application.

Please note, there are many overseas doctors applying for all parts of the pathology exams so don’t be put off by the lack of information!

If you have the required months training in a recognised programme in your country for Haematology specifically, the chances are you will be eligible.

Eligibility for Part 1:

You are required to have trained in a recognised training programme in haematology for a period of no less than two years.

Eligibility for Part 2:

The Royal College expects you to have at least three years of specialty training specific to Haematology in your own country before applying. Furthermore, you cannot sit Part 2 examination until 12 months after successfully completing Part 1.

Structure and content for FRCPath in Haematology:

The exam is split into 2 parts with 5 individual examinations in total.

Part 1:

Part 1 comprises two written papers:

Paper 1 or Essay Paper – four essay questions each addressing an important area of laboratory or clinical practice in one of the four areas:

  • Blood transfusion
  • General haematology
  • Haematological oncology 
  • Haemostasis & thrombosis

Paper 2 or MCP Paper – 125 questions of both multiple choice and extended matching format. 

50 questions will be best from five whilst 75 are extended matching and examines knowledge of:

  • blood transfusion 25%
  • general haemotology 25%
  • haematological oncology 25%
  • haemostasis & thrombosis 25%

Most questions are structured around clinical or laboratory vignettes and are designed to assess clinical judgement and ability to apply, rather than just recall knowledge.

Questions map to the Haematology training curriculum

The blueprint from which the questions are developed can be found on the Royal College website

Part 1: 

3 written papers and 1 oral examination:

Morphology SAQs

Morphology, Long cases

1.5 hour

1.5 hour

12 short answer questions

3 questions long answer 

Transfusion

2-hour

10 questions

Coagulation

2-hour

8 questions

Oral Examination

1 hour

8 topics

Part 2: 

The exam is held simultaneously over 3 days in the UK only and evaluates your knowledge, skills and clinical judgement in important areas within the Haemotology. The questions in the written papers adopt a short answer format which requires you to provide a concise response, these answers can be given in short words, phrases or lists.

A series of questions may relate to ‘clinical vignette’ building on case information. Clinical vignettes are patient related cases and scenarios that have educational value for a wider audience. 

Morphology: SAQs

  • up to 12 questions answered in 1 hour 30 minutes
  • each question requires you to examine 1-2 of either of the following:
    • microscope slides 
    • flow cytometry plots
    • additional laboratory data
    • quality assurance

Morphology: Long cases

  • 3 questions answered in 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Each question will provide a case history and contains several parts which require either:
    • Interpretation of slides, lab results or other clinical investigations
    • Provide a report and make diagnosis
    • Recommend clinical investigations and interventions

Transfusion:

  • 10 questions answered in 2 hours

Each question will provide a case history or lab results requiring you to:

  • Interpret data
  • Make diagnosis 
  • Recommend further investigation or treatment

Coagulation:

  • 8 questions answered in 2 hours

Each question will provide a case history or lab results requiring you to:

  • Interpret data
  • Make diagnosis 
  • Recommend further investigation or treatment

Oral Examination:

The oral examination assesses your ability to evaluate problems and demonstrate good clinical judgement whilst assessing your ability to communicate clearly and effectively. The exam covers 8 topics over 1 hour, with two 30-minute oral exams with two pairs of examiners. 

First Exam - 2 topics in coagulation & 2 topics in transfusion medicine

Second Exam - 2 topics in general laboratory haematology & 2 topics in haematological oncology

As an overseas candidate where can I take the exams? And how much will they cost me?

Part 1 overseas examinations centres:

Location

Part 1 Overseas Fees

Cairo (Egypt)

 

 

£880

Erbil (Iraq)

Hong Kong

 

Irbil (Iraq)

 

Jeddah (Saudi Arabia)

 

Khartoum (Sudan)

 

Kuwait

 

Delhi (India)

 

Rawalpindi (Pakistan)

 

Singapore

 

Part 2 Examination centres:

Part 2 can only be taken in the UK. The exam costs £1361.

How do I apply?

Applications must be made via the Royal College of Pathologists website, with applications only available once an application window is opened by the Royal College.

How to prepare and what resources are available?

With lots of resources available online, we have discussed with consultants the best place to start looking for materials relating to the exams. Most recommended starting with the Royal College, who have created useful resources to help you to prepare for the exams. 

Curriculum: 

The content of the exam is set against the Haematology Training Curriculum.

We recommend getting to know the curriculum as early as possible and using it as a road map for your study plan. 

Regulations and Guidelines:

Before applying for FRCPath examinations, the Royal College recommends you read both the General & Specialty Specific regulations and guidelines:

Past papers: 

Test your knowledge using example questions from the current exam syllabus provided by the Royal College, see below:

Blueprint for MCQ Examination:

The blueprint from which the MCQ questions are developed..

British Society of Haematology guidelines:

Compulsory reading material for exams and day-to-day clinical practice. Make sure to read them, understand them and know the recommendations made in bold. Be aware that the guidelines are a few years old and imminently due for review.

British Society for Haematology educational resources:

Click here for the British Society for Haematology educational resources.

Morphology image bank, case reports, practice essay questions, EMQs, MCQs and tutorials. Signup and login required but you don’t need to be a member to make use of the BSH’s bank of essay questions, MCQs and EMQs

Blood Journal: How I treat articles:

Click here for easy-to-read helpful overviews of most haematological conditions

Ihaematology.com:

http://www.ihaematology.com/ Revision site created by previous candidates.

Haembase:

Click here for Haembase. This is a general revision resource for those preparing for FRCPath examinations

IMG Connect advice:

Part 2 – food and drink: 

With multiple exams taking place for Part 2 in one day bring supplies! It will be a long day and there may not be access to food.

Hiring a microscope:

For Part 2 you will be required to sit examinations in the UK and will require a microscope. The examination centres will not provide equipment for any applicants so you will need to hire a microscope in advance.

There are a few companies easily accessible through a web search, find a microscope and book well in advance of the exam. You can arrange for the company to drop off and pick up the microscope from the exam centre, don’t worry!

At IMG Connect we recommend speaking to anyone you know who has sat and passed the exam and get their personal hints and tips. We would also be happy to help you arrange anything you need for the exam day. 

Passed? What next?

First of all, congratulations! After you have passed all parts of FRCPath Haematology you can apply for a full registration with a license to practice. Once the GMC have approved your application, you can work as a doctor in the UK. 

Don’t hesitate to get in touch with an IMG Consultant to discuss UK job options in Haematology, including discussions regarding a typical doctor salary in the UK and the most suitable locations for you. 

 

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