There is currently a provisional plan in place to have a 4th diet of the exam in 2022 (normally there are only 3 diets of the exam each year) and also in 2023, in order to maximise the number of applicants who can be offered an opportunity to sit the exam.
The proposed dates for the extra diet of the exam are 25-27th July 2022. Ideally the Intercollegiate Specialty Board would like to hold the exam somewhere central within England, although the venue is still to be confirmed. The intention is to hold this examination diet if possible, over 2 days for candidates (3 for examiners to allow for the administration of the exam).
The single biggest obstacle to overcome with any of the upcoming diets of the FRCS examination is a lack of examiner numbers, for a number of factors. Primarily there are simply not enough examiners despite a major recruitment drive by Mr Rao and his team. Other issues include difficulties examiners are having in being released from their clinical duties by local management, and the issue of examiner fatigue as the same examiners are continuously relied upon to facilitate the FRCS.
One proposal made was to prioritise applicants to the FRCS who were National Training Number holders. However, it is felt by the Intercollegiate Specialty Board that this causes significant issues of fairness. It was felt that this might actually have a negative effect on trainees sitting the exam, and providing an extra diet of the exam was the fairest way for all applicants.
There is an enormous amount of work going on by members of the Intercollegiate Specialty Board to try and facilitate a very large number of applicants. The Intercollegiate Specialty Board are very aware of just how significant an impact the FRCS examination has not just on trainees careers but also on their lives and those of the family and friends around them, so are searching for every solution to this backlog.
More than anything, please encourage any consultants you may know to consider becoming examiners! It requires them to be a minimum of 5 years in post as consultant and a full description and application form is available on the JCIE website.
Please share with trainees in your region approaching the FRCS as appropriate.
BOTA SAC Rep
ST8 Trainee, Northern Ireland Deanery