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This is a list to help you prepare for the examination, but I do not say that this is a comprehensive list. There are many other excellent resources out there to help you. Please let me know if you feel there is something which should be mentioned here. Many of these books are costly and you may want to check your departmental/institutional library first.
- Curriculum – Most important resource. Go throught the curriculum and do a gap analysis. Check what are the areas you feel you need to read more. You can develop a traffic light system to help you (green – you are confident, amber – you need to read more, red – you must read about this topic. For example ‘typing in microbiology’ How confident are you?)
- A standard textbook: Patrick Murray/ Greenwood.
- Oxford Handbook of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology
- Microbiology & Infectious Diseases Flashcards, Third Edition (Lange Flashcards)
- The emphasis on clinical aspect of the infection has increased now. Hence, I believe preparing from a USMLE book (infection related questions) will be helpful. However, please be aware that this exam is for the UK, so you have to think about the UK scenario when you are preparing. (For example – the coccidioidomycosis is endemic in some parts of the USA but not in the UK, MRSA is more prevalent in the USA, teicoplanin is not available in the USA, Group B universal screening in pregnancy is not done in the UK etc).
- Critical appraisal:
Book –How to Read a Paper: The Basics of Evidence-Based Medicine: Trisha Greenhalgh
Practice writing abstract. Make a list of different statistical terms (e.g Sensitivity, specificity, NNT) and learn how to apply them.
- Vaccine: Greenbook
- Greenbook MCQ
- SOP: National SMI
- Sensitivity testing – EUCAST
- Mycology: Identification of Pathogenic Fungi (- A book to help with mycology identification. If you have any other resource and comfortable with it – please use that. )
Dividing the fungi based on clinical features might help. For example, if the sample is an ear swab – you should be able to think what are the common fungus that we can isolate from there. Make sure you are familiar with microscopy, germ tube test, API, E-test, corn meal agar. Learn different methods of identification and sensitivity. You must read about clinically relevant fungi and antifungal drugs.
- Virology: Read the virology from any standard textbook. I read Kudesia’s Clinical and Diagnostic Virology, but I couldn’t find any updated version after 2009. I do not recommend using a reference book like Fields Virology as a textbook (it is not time effective).
I suggest you collect a list of common virology problems (e.g. management of rash contact in pregnancy) and prepare answers for those scenarios. Ask your virologist for help.
- Parasitology: Usually short answer questions, spotters etc. Please remember UK not being a tropical country we do not see a lot of parasitology. You need to balance your effort and gain here. I also found it useful to keep google image open when I read parasitology. Search the image of whatever you are reading. It will help you if you get a spotter.
- Cowan and Steel’s Manual for the Identification of Medical Bacteria (Reference, most likely you will get it in your laboratory)
- Health technical memoranda (relevant ones only – water, ventilation, decontamination)
- Subscribe to Public Health England (PHE) RSS feed or
Subscribe to Health Protection report
- Journals – Read UK microbiology journals
Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy
The Journal of Hospital Infection
Journal of Infection
The Lancet Infectious diseases
- Guideline from different UK organisations – NICE, BTS, BSAC, BASHH, BHIVA, CHIVA, HIS, BIA, SIGN, IPS, RCOG, BOA, BSR etc.
- Infection control: Check NHS Trust guidelines – many of the NHS trust guidelines are available in the internet. If you are from the UK – read your trust infection control and antibiotic guideline. If you are in a DGH – find out the guidelines of a university hospital, as you may not find all the guidelines in a DGH – like transplant related guidelines.
You can also supplement your knowledge from an infection control book (some of them are very costly and old – choose a new one, if you can)
Communicable Disease Control and Health Protection Handbook (2012)
Unfortunately I am not aware of any preparatory course for part 2 FRCPath Microbiology. (If you are aware of any -please let me know).
For UK trainees local hospitals might organise a mock test for you. I recommend you speak to your ES and TPD.
RCPath do not allow storing of the past papers, but you can look at some sample papers here.
You should speak to trainees who has recently appeared in the examination for guidance.
Here are some topics that I get asked frequently. Many of these questions are answered in the RCPath website - please read this first -RCPath FAQ for the examination . Please note I am neither involved in the examination process nor hold any position in RCPath. These answers are from my own experience.
How much time you should give yourself to prepare?
It is difficult to say how long you need as it very much depend upon the you – your method and speed of study, whether you are preparing while working or not, whether you are trained in the UK or familiar with UK system etc.
For UK trainees – I would suggest you discuss with your educational supervisor. He is the best person to advise you if you are ready.
For International trainees – if you have already done post-grad, probably you have enough knowledge of Microbiology. However, you need to get used to or learn the UK system. You might need 6 months least, if not a year, to prepare for either part of FRCPath.
Collect your materials first, then assess how much time you might need to cover that.
Is there any syllabus/curriculum?
RCPath provides the trainees with the curriculum.
Is there any MCQ book/Question bank available for the examination.
I have not seen any book specifically written for FRCPath examination. The questions are often based on clinical scenario. So if you find similar questions in any book (USMLE prep), please use that. RCPath provided us with some sample papers.
You should also speak to the trainees who has recently appeared in the examination for guidance.
My understanding is that the FRCPath part 1 looks for a breadth of knowledge rather than depth. For Part 2, however you need an extensive knowledge of all aspects of microbiology and infection (and also areas like infection control, decontamination etc.) as you will be expected to work unsupervised as a consultant soon.
Dr Katherine Watson, StR, Microbiology has kindly let us know the resources that she used to prepare for FRCPath part 2.
Also, don’t forget to read the quality-related guidance, you can pick up useful information to include the essay question if it is anything about a laboratory service and also in my exam one of the groups of 4 short notes were all about laboratory quality assurance.
Look out for new SMIs, for example, in the autumn 2015 exam there were questions relating to the new ectoparasite SMI.
Infection Control and Public Health
Source: RCPath website https://www.rcpath.org/trainees/examinations/examinations-latest-news-and-calendar.html
From Autumn 2017 onwards, the format of the FRCPath Part 2 Medical Microbiology examination has changed. The changes, which have been approved by the General Medical Council, are designed to make the exam more accurately reflect the role of the consultant microbiologist in modern NHS practice; to be in line with new, revised curricula in Medical Microbiology specialty training; and to strengthen the reliability of the examination.
The new-format examination will last two days and be structured as follows:
Structured essay paper and Short-Answer Questions (SAQs): 2 ½ hours
1 essay (from a choice of 2) followed by 10 SAQs.
SAQs to be based on clinical and laboratory scenarios and to include:
- Data interpretation
- Report validation
- Laboratory management, including quality assurance, laboratory error/incidents, lab safety
- Clinical investigation and management
- Infection prevention and control
- Anti-microbial stewardship
Critical Appraisal Paper and SAQs: 2 ½ hours
1 journal article to critically appraise (from a choice of 2) followed by 10 SAQs (as described above).
Practical Scenarios: 3 ½ hours
- A series of images, data and other laboratory-based material will be presented with clinical scenarios for which candidates provide interpretation and construct management plans.
- Clinical scenarios and laboratory material evolve with additional information during the exam to simulate day-to-day clinical practice
Objective Structured Practical Examination (OSPE): 3 hours
At least 15 stations.