The training programme in transfusion medicine, produced by the Haematology Specialty Advisory Committee (SAC) of the Joint Committee on Higher Medical Training (JCHMT) is an essential component of specialist registrar training in transfusion medicine. Assessment visits of the postgraduate programme by members of the SAC on Haematology ensure that an appropriate standard of training is offered.
The annual Record of In-Training Assessment (RITA) and penultimate year assessment (PYA) are also important aspects of training to ensure that the trainee is making adequate progress. Regular three or six-monthly meetings between trainees and designated trainers should also be in place to complement the RITAs.
Against this background of progressive development of the specialist registrar, the examination system aims to assess whether the trainee is acquiring the levels of knowledge appropriate to the duration of their training. The training programme of the JCHMT, when completed successfully, together with the Membership of The Royal College of Pathologists, entitles the trainee to a Certificate of Completion of Specialist Training (CCST) in haematology there being no CCST for transfusion medicine.
Part 1 examination
Trainees will usually sit this examination after two years of post-registration training. The examination comprises the following.
a) Two written papers
These measure the trainees knowledge of transfusion medicine and laboratory and clinical haematology. Paper 1 is the same as paper 1 for the examination in haematology. Paper 2 contains the same compulsory question on blood transfusion practice as the haematology paper 2, plus four other questions that will examine the candidates knowledge of transfusion medicine. Successful candidates then progress to:
b) A practical examination
This examination is held in three centres in the UK. There is no variability between centres since the same question papers and slide material are used in the centres. The candidate in transfusion medicine will sit approximately half of the examination in morphology and coagulation as the haematology candidates. An additional practical in transfusion medicine will be set. There is: -
· a morphology section: this consists of one section of ten short answers to questions that required a diagnosis from a blood film, bone marrow aspirate/trephine biopsy or from data interpretation.
· a coagulation section: usually four questions to be answered in one hour. These comprise data interpretation on a range of clinical and laboratory problems found in coagulation.
· a blood transfusion section: usually ten questions in two separate sections, which require interpretation of transfusion medicine data. This paper is sat with the haematology candidates. A second paper will explore areas of transfusion practice not covered in the general blood transfusion examination.
· an oral examination: this will emphasise, but not be exclusively devoted to, transfusion medicine.
Candidates are required to pass all four sections of the examination. Attendance prior to the examination at coagulation and blood transfusion courses is important but candidates are expected to be familiar with the day-to-day clinical and laboratory problems that arise in their training departments.