Encyclopedic and fascinated with arbitrary trivia welcome to the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine exams! To get to this stage you will have had to have done some post-graduate exams before (FRCA primary, MRCP, MRCEM), so you have some idea what you are in for. For many (most) it is a case of a lot of bookwork, exam practice and the loss of your social life for a few months.
Never fear: we are here to support you with your exams!
See the FICM website for full exam details.
FFICM written Exam
A 3 hour exam. The structure changed in June 2022 and moved to only Single Best Answer questions of two types:
– 80 ‘Short’ questions where the stem is short, with each correct answer earning 1 mark.
– 50 ‘Long’ questions with a longer stem, with each correct answer earning 2 marks.
The Faculty aims that the exam ‘tests breadth of factual knowledge in the areas of science applied to clinical practice including resuscitation and initial management of the acutely ill patient; diagnosis, assessment, investigation, monitoring and data interpretation; disease management; therapeutic interventions and organ support; perioperative care; comfort and recovery; end of life care; paediatric care; transport; patient safety and health systems management.’
Unlike most written exams, time is definitely a factor, so don’t dawdle. The exam can be frustratingly ambiguous even for medical exams, but the pass rate is relatively high.
FFICM OSCE and SOE
The oral component is split into an OSCE (Objective Structured Clinical Examination and SOE (Structured Oral Examination or Viva). They are held on the same day and you need to pass both, but they essentially act independently, with marks not transferring across from one to the other and if you are unlucky enough to fail one, you only have to retake that one exam.
The Faculty’s objective for the exam is ‘to test knowledge and skills essential to the safe practice of Intensive Care Medicine’.
The exam consists of:
13 stations and a rest station with 12 being ‘live’ stations and one being a test station.
Each station has one minute reading time outside and seven minutes inside to answer questions.
Each station is marked out of 20, giving a total possible mark of 240.
There are no marks for saying things that are not on the examiner’s mark sheet, so keep your answers short and directed to the question you have been asked.
The pass mark varies day to day, depending on their regression analysis.
Typically the exam includes
– An ECG station
– A radiology station
– An equipment station
– A communication station
– A resus station
– Many of the remaining stations have data interpretation elements (bloods, gases, radiology, ECGs) as well as clinical questions.
FFICM SOE Exam
The SOE aims to test ‘knowledge in clinical science as applied to the practice of Intensive Care Medicine. The focus will usually be on clinical problems’.
The exam consists of:
4 stations of 14 minutes each, with two 7-minute questions asked in each station.
There are two examiners in each station, asking a question each.
Both examiners mark the candidate for each question, awarding a mark of:
0 – fail
1 – borderline
2 – pass
Giving a total out of 32 marks
The pass mark varies depending on the college’s analysis.
The examination has returned to a face to face format. Long may this continue.
The previous sittings were online due to Covid. For the oral examinations, this meant the overall time taken for the exam was significantly extended due to the time taken between stations moving candidates from virtual room to virtual room.
The structure stayed largely unchanged. Some questions were very challenging to translate to a virtual format, most particularly the resus question, where the candidate has to rather awkwardly direct a third party (most commonly an ‘ED Reg’) through a sim scenario.
Neurodiversity & Learning Difficulties
Appropriate adjustments including extra time can be given in both the written and the oral examinations. The possibility of extra time in the OSCE/SOE is not widely advertised. It is worth highlighting this to your Faculty Tutor, and members of the STC, so they can help you draw the Faculty’s attention to your needs.