Strategic Developments from the ESA Examinations Committee

Strategic Developments from the ESA Examinations Committee

Update from Dr Andrey Varvinskiy, ESA Examinations Committee Chairman

Traditionally, the year starts with preparation for the On-Line Assessment (OLA)   that in 2018 took place on April 20. OLA is one of ESA’s most successful developments with a record number of 1376 candidates taking the OLA this year. OLA now takes place in 120 centres across 27 countries.

“We are particularly pleased to see OLA now running in 17 centres across Sweden, 15 centres in Italy, 13 centres in Spain, 11 in Germany and 13 centres in China. We are also delighted that OLA is now available in countries outside Europe including Argentina, Brazil, China, Chile and Oman,” explains Dr Varvinskiy. New OLA centres for 2018 included Rancagua (Chile), Minsk (Belarus) and Odessa (Ukraine). “It is our Committee’s intention to offer OLA to any country in the world and it seems that this educational product is proving to be a very popular quality training assessment tool as well as a preparation tool for the European Diploma in Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care (EDAIC) Part I.”

OLA is inexpensive (€50), computer-based and delivers instant results, and provides the opportunity to review the individual performance at the end of the test. A more detailed report of the candidate’s performance is later prepared by the ESA office. The report also compares national and global averages of OLA candidates at the same level of training giving a very useful idea to the Training Programmes Directors about their training schemes’ quality and candidates’ progress.

Dr Varvinskiy says: “Candidates are allowed to use their own personal laptops. This year during OLA a new specialised software for secure online examinations was tested with a further intention to use it for EDAIC Part I examinations in the future. This software is called Safe Exam Browser, which prevents unauthorised resources being used during an exam.”

The most exciting development in EDAIC Part I has been the  gradual move from a paper-based to a computer-based examination. In 2017 the first pilot sessions were held in four centres in two languages only – English and Turkish. The pilot was very successful and in 2018 the electronic version of Part I will be offered in eight centres in four languages (English, Turkish, German and Russian) in Ankara, Cork, Freiburg, Hamburg, Jakarta, Msida (Malta), Nijmegen and Yerevan.

“At this stage we are using computers that are available in the education centres but we are hoping that in the future, candidates will be able to bring their own laptops and undertake the examination via the above-mentioned Safe Exam Browser software,” says Dr Varvinskiy. “The Part I Sub-Committee, led by Prof Wolfram Engelhardt, is working really hard to widen and modernise the question database in line with recent developments in pharmacology, clinical measurements, anaesthesia and intensive care to include new questions on modern imaging techniques and monitoring devices as well as many other topics.”

This modernising initiative has included feedback from  Part I candidates  in 2017 from 65 centres worldwide. The number of Part I centres keeps rising and this year see new centres in Guntur (India), Freiburg, Hamburg, Erlangen (Germany), Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and Turin (Italy), all joining on the 15th September 2018. Please take note of this date and encourage your colleagues and trainees to apply by 12 June 2018!

“I am very proud to inform you that EDAIC Part I is becoming a worldwide phenomenon being run in four continents including Europe, Asia, Africa and South America.  In-Training Assessment (ITA) is still popular in several countries including Sweden, the Netherlands and Finland and we will continue to offer this form of assessment but hope that eventually OLA will be used universally across the board,” says Dr Varvinskiy.

For EDAIC Part II, the update is that since the first exams in Strasbourg in 1985 an astonishing 6482 candidates have sat this examination. The numbers are growing year by year starting from just 25 in 1985 and reaching 848 in 2017.

It is also the Examinations Committee’s intention to provide training to all newly appointed examiners as well as existing examiners. In 2017 we have seen an unprecedented 67 applications to become EDAIC examiners. The examiners body has substantially increased in numbers in recent years, but, since ESA is considering offering  EDAIC Part II in Portuguese and Polish in the coming years, those with good command of these languages are especially invited to apply.

In order to address the training of examiners, there is an Examiners’ Training Session at this Euroanaesthesia in Copenhagen to which all existing examiners have been personally invited. Topics about equality and diversity, new marking system, good (and bad) examination techniques as well as practical marking exercises are offered in a 2.5-hour session.

Dr Varvinskiy concludes with with an update on the Basic Science Anaesthesia Course (BSAC). To help candidates with their preparation for the EDAIC Part I, BSAC is taking place again in Copenhagen alongside the main congress. He says: “This course has proven to be very popular among candidates and usually attracts around 70 to 90 candidates each year but in 2018 we have seen an unprecedented 111 candidates registered for BSAC! The main aim of the course is to cover basic science topics including physiology, pharmacology, physics and measurements.”