The MRCPath examination in virology is part of the integrated portfolio of assessment methods that are designed to monitor the progress of trainees through the objective based curriculum in virology and to certify that a candidate is fit to practice as an independent specialist clinical virologist.
The examination has recently been reviewed and a major change in its form has been agreed. Part 1 of the examination for Membership of the College in microbiology and virology now consists of a joint paper, which is described below.
Part 2 of the examination will focus entirely on specialist virology, the detail of this examination is currently under discussion. It will probably consist of a formal written examination with a practical component and an assessed portfolio with research, clinical and service components.
The old style part 1 and part 2 examinations in virology will continue for trainees currently in programme, but new trainees will sit the new style examination. Trainees currently in specialist registrar posts who have not taken the Part 1 examination for Membership can choose either the old or new style examination until Spring 2004, after which time it is expected that all trainees will sit the new examination.
Part 1 examination
Medically qualified candidates are required to have trained in a recognised Regional Higher Specialist Training Programme in Microbiology for a period of normally not less than 12 months.
The timing for non-medically qualified candidates has yet to be agreed
Note: Applications for entry to the exams following shorter periods of training must be supported fully by the relevant programme director and educational supervisor, and will be considered jointly by the Chair of the Microbiology Panel of Examiners and the Chair of the Microbiology CATT.
Old Part 1 examination
· This examination consists of a formal, written essay-style assessment with two three-hour papers and a 2½ -day practical examination.
· The examination is normally taken after two or three years in training and is normally exclusively confined to topics in virology.
· This examination will not be offered after 2004.
New Part 1 examination (joint examination with microbiology)
· To act as early assessment of the trainees knowledge and understanding of the scientific basis of medical microbiology, virology and infectious diseases).
· Multiple-choice; mixture of one-best-answer and extended-matching formats designed to test both knowledge and understanding.
· Planned to run in a computerised format, although this may not be up and running initially.
This will be drawn from the current curriculum recently approved by the College. The examination will be testing core knowledge in medical microbiology/virology and in particular the scientific basis of virology/microbiology and infection.
By the end of year one, trainees proceeding to the MRCPath 1 examination should:
· have acquired knowledge of basic biology and host response to bacterial, viral mycological and parasitic agents with understanding of the structure genetics epidemiology, pathogenic mechanisms and immunopathologies involved in disease processes
· understand the principles of epidemiology, presentation, diagnosis and management of the clinical syndromes that result from interactions between micro-organisms and man
· have acquired laboratory skills necessary for safe virological and microbiological practice and an understanding of the methods for evaluating diagnostic tests
· have a basic understanding of antimicrobial sciences including susceptibility testing methodology and pharmacological principles
· have a working knowledge of major infection control and public health issues
· have developed under supervision core reporting skills
· have gained an understanding of laboratory practice including health and safety and quality control
· have sufficient understanding of virology and microbiology to offer basic advice on the interpretation of laboratory results
· have a sufficient knowledge of laboratory techniques to underpin clinical practice but have a basic knowledge of presentation management of common infections.
· understand and practice clinical audit and risk management.
Standards and marking
· Objective multiple-choice question (MCQ) examination (single two-hour paper) with computerised marking.
· One-best-answer and extended-matching question formats.
· Experienced group of examiners involved in standard setting and curriculum mapping.
· Criterion-based pass-mark set for each examination by the Panel of Examiners (individual question review to create minimum standard).
· Individual candidate performance available.
· Examination review biannual.