Textbook Review: Examination Emergency Medicine – Wilkes, Peirce, Foot & Ting

In the style of Talley & O’Connor (who’s multi-edition classics Clinical Examination: A Systematic Guide to Physical Diagnosis, 6ealt
and Examination Medicine: A Guide to Physician Training, 6e (The Examination)alt have been the staple guides for clinical medical exams for many years), some very dedicated Australian Emergency Physicians have put together a guide to the ACEM Fellowship Exam.  Examination Emergency Medicine: A Guide to the ACEM Fellowship Examination, 1ealt
is a fantastic book for anyone who is considering sitting the exam, either to be read a long while beforehand, so you have time to drop out of Emergency and do something simpler like Orthopaedics if you get freaked by the enormity of the challenge, or for those who are committed, I’d suggest reading this 12-18 months before you plan to sit.

The book is written in an upbeat style, and is easy to read.  It is a bit wordy and could do with a few more lists instead of lengthy descriptive paragraphs, but it gives you the feeling that the authors are speaking from first hand experience, and are providing personal insights rather than a simple “how to” guide, and there is very much a positive, “can-do” vibe that runs through the book.

Prefaced by a chapter on preparing yourself for the exam (what I like to call “life tips”), the book moves on to a chapter on each section of the exam (MCQ, SAQ, VAQ, short case, long case and SCE).  These vary in usefulness, with some providing not a lot more than common sense advice, whilst others (for example the VAQ section) have some great tips on preparation and answering technique.  All sections for the written components have practice questions, and the chapters on the clinical components give a good insight into preparation and presentation. There’s also some chapters on the 4.10 project (which is less relevant now the alternative path is being taken by 90% of trainees), and a section on Evidence Based Medicine and summaries of groundbreaking papers in Emergency Medicine.

Of note, the short case section goes through the main system examinations you are likely to get, including a detailed section on neurological examination (which is obviously done poorly in exams!), as well as a few “curve-balls” that have been known to come up, including pregnancy and neonatal examinations.  The SCE section is also quite good, with several practice questions and advice about how to handle things if you are asked to reconsider an answer, or forget something.  It has what I think is a great piece of advice too: “When the bell rings, its time to move on, physically and mentally.  Each station is marked independently.  The next pair of examiners does not know whether you have just gunned or bombed”!

Overall I’d highly recommend Examination Emergency Medicine: A Guide to the ACEM Fellowship Examination, 1ealt
for anyone considering sitting the ACEM Fellowship Exam.  Especially for those who are unable to attend an exam course, as it will give you a non-threatening insight into the exam design, process, and objectives.  While a lot of the advice in it will be gleaned from sites like EDExam and asking a few colleagues for tips, as well as applying common sense, it is a good resource to keep on hand, and I’d recommend reading it early on before you start studying, as it will definitely help guide you in the right direction when your proper exam preparation starts.

For those going paperless, here’s a link to the Kindle Edition:
Examination Emergency Medicine: A Guide to the ACEM Fellowship Examination (Kindle Edition)alt

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