If you’re a doctor planning to specialise in Clinical Oncology, you’ll need to obtain FRCR to progress onto ST3+ level.
In this blog post, we’ll provide you with an exclusive insight into the Royal College Qualification: including vital information on fees, areas tested and some top tips on how to successfully pass and take your first steps to a career in clinical oncology.
What exams are included in FRCR?
First FRCR, Final FRCR Part A, and Final FRCR Part B.
The First FRCR exam consists of four papers, which are:
- Cancer Biology and Radiobiology
- Clinical Pharmacology
- Medical Statistics
Exam Fees: Members £123 per module / Non-members £145 per module
The purpose of the First FRCR is to assess your knowledge of the sciences that underpin clinical oncology practice; including physics as applied to radiotherapy, radiobiology, cancer biology including molecular biology, the pharmacology of systemic anti-cancer treatments and medical statistics.
During the examination you’ll need to demonstrate:
- Your understanding of the molecular basis of abnormalities which give rise to dysplasia, invasive cancer and metastases
- Understanding of the therapeutic effects and toxicity of ionising radiation at the level of cells, organs and organisms
- Knowledge of the safe, appropriate and effective use of drugs for systemic therapy and symptomatic treatment of cancer
- Statistics knowledge necessary to understand the design of trials, read and use of trial protocol, present and interpret data, interpret results of clinical trials, critically review and evaluate papers
- Knowledge and understanding of physics that underpin current radiotherapy practice, including the interaction of ionising radiation with matter, how a desired dose distribution is produced, calculated and quality assured, and how the dose of unintended radiation can be minimised for patients and staff.
Click here for the suggested reading list for the exam.
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The Final FRCR has two parts: Part A and Part B. The purpose of the exam is to assess your ability to manage patients with cancer in line with your knowledge, skills and behaviour required to complete intermediate clinical oncology training.
Part A: Single-best-answer Examination
Part B: Clinical and Oral Examination
2 x single-best answer paper
- Paper 1: Focuses on the following tumours: respiratory, urology, head and neck, skin, central nervous system and gynaecology
- Paper 2: Focuses on the following tumours: breast, lower gastrointestinal, upper gastrointestinal, haematology, miscellaneous and image-based
Exam Fees: Member-Rate £343 / Non-Member Rate £404
The exam will assess the following:
- Your core medical knowledge
- Basic clinical problem solving skills
- Management of common and important oncological emergencies
- Ability to process information to formulate a differential diagnosis
- Requisition and interpretation of appropriate investigations
- Application of medical knowledge in order to produce a management plan
Exam Fees: Member-Rate £490 / Non-Member Rate £577
The Final FRCR Part B is designed to mark your ability to use your knowledge and skills as an independent practitioner.
The award of the final FRCR Part B indicates that you have attained the required level of competence across the components of the curriculum and you are ready to undertake specialist interest training.
The Final FRCR Part B is designed to test your skills and competencies that are essential for safe and effective clinical practice.
You’ll be tested on your ability to:
- Detect important clinical signs using effective examination techniques
- Provide a rationale differential diagnosis
- Order and interpret appropriate investigations
- Identify the main treatment options
- Select an appropriate, safe and sensible management plan
- Recommend a safe radiotherapy technique and know the likely outcomes and side effects
- Recommend a safe systemic treatment schedule and know their likely outcomes and side effects
- Discuss a likely prognosis in the case presented
- Demonstrate an ability to treat the patient sensitively, ensuring their comfort and dignity
The exam will use real patients, so you can demonstrate your true clinical wisdom and judgment.
The exam consists of 5 strictly timed clinical assessment stations, where your core skills will be tested by two examiners at each station
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3 Top Tips to help you Successfully Pass Your FRCR Exams
1. Start preparing early
Timing your revision and preparation for your exams is essential to your success. You’ll need to prepare early enough to revise and practice all the content, but also not too far in the future that when it comes to exam day, it’ll be a distant memory.
2. Make use of a Range of Revision Resources
The Royal College of Radiologists provides the best text you should utilise for your revision; however, you should also make use of social media forums, videos, podcasts and practising clinical scenarios with a study group.
3. Attend a Course
There are various online and location-based courses available for FRCR Clinical Oncology. By attending a course, you’ll get a true insight into exam day, get the opportunity to discuss the content with other doctors taking the exam and most importantly, give you the practical experience you will need
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