The American Board of Anesthesiology has recently gone through dramatic changes in their Board certification exams to encourage continuous learning throughout residency training. With the addition of an extra exam, anesthesiology residents face a new standard for certification that their predecessors had not previously faced.
In the past, Board certification consisted of a written and an oral exam that were taken after residency had been completed. The biggest changes to the ABA’s certification process come on the written exam side. Previously residents would take the Part 1 written exam in the summer following their CA-3 year, but now the ABA has broken that exam into two.
The BASIC Exam
The BASIC Exam, which was initially given in July of the CA-2 year, is a written exam that is now taken during residency. As a resident’s training progresses, the BASIC will be offered in January and July in the CA-2 and CA-3 years.
This exam focuses on scientific basis of clinical anesthesia practice and will have an emphasis on anatomy, anesthesia equipment, monitoring, pharmacology, and physiology. 200 questions make up the BASIC exam that include A-type, G-sets and R-sets. According to ABA standards, residents are given a bit of grace if they fail the BASIC once, they simply have to take the exam again.
However, if you fail the BASIC more than twice, it will add at least six months to your residency training. The BASIC exam is critical to pass, as you can not graduate without doing so.
A caution: all residency programs approach BASIC failure differently. Some allow you to take the exam again, while others may fire a resident for failing just one time. Make sure to be familiar with your program’s policies.
The Advanced Exam
The ADVANCED exam is taken after the completion of residency. This exam concentrates on the clinical aspects of anesthesiology and focuses on subspecialty practices and advanced clinical issues. Much like the BASIC exam, the ADVANCED exam is comprised of 200 questions that include A-type, G-sets and R-sets.
Unlike the BASIC exam, failing the ADVANCED exam has no impact on your graduation from residency. However, in order to be eligible to sit for the oral boards, you must have passed both the BASIC and the ADVANCED exams.
The third exam you must pass in order to be ABA Board certified is the oral exam. There have been changes to this exam too. For starters, this exam is now known as the APPLIED exam.
This exam will be made up of two components: a Standardized Oral Examination (SOE) and an Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE).
During OSCEs residents will be presented with a number of simulated clinical situations that will score you on aspects of clinical practice such as history taking, physical exam, procedural skills, decision making, counseling, professionalism, and communication.
In order to take this exam, you must do so at the ABA headquarters in Raleigh, NC. If you are taking the Applied exam in 2017, you will only have to take the SOE portion as the Board has postponed the rollout of OSCEs.
Who is impacted by The ABA’s changes?
If you completed/will complete residency training before June 30, 2016, you will only be required to complete the Part 1 Written and the Part 2 Oral within seven years of completing residency training in order to become Board certified.
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