TFM Publishing Ltd: London, 2011
ISBN 978-1-903378-83-0, 200 pp
Price £30 (€45)
This is the second publication in series aimed at individuals sitting postgraduate examinations in anaesthesia. The first volume addressed the clinical components of anaesthetic practice, whereas this book seeks to test a candidate's knowledge of the basic sciences relating to anaesthesia. As with the previous volume, the introduction does not state which examinations are targeted, however the format is keeping with that of the Primary Fellowship of the Royal College of Anaesthetists (FRCA) (UK) examination, where Single Best Answer MCQs (SBAs) were introduced in September 2011. This is in contrast to the European Diploma in Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care where traditional true/false MCQs are employed to test a candidate's knowledge.
The book is organised into six papers of 30 SBA questions, with five possible responses to each question. Of these five options, one is the best, and therefore the correct answer. The questions cover all areas of basic science of the FRCA curriculum: pharmacology, physiology, physics, clinical measurement and equipment, and are largely written as clinical vignettes where the question covers the basic science surrounding the scenario or problem posed. Following each paper, there are answers with detailed explanations to questions and references for further reading.
As with the previous volume questions are written in a clear, concise manner, with each paper containing questions from the broad range of topics listed above. Answers are clear with brief, but accurate, explanations of the subject addressed using bullet points, formulae and graphs appropriately to present information to the reader. References provided are from popular textbooks, recent publications of scientific journals and internet addresses, and include recently published guidelines.
Where the book fails is the lack of a section on exam technique as candidates may not have encountered such a paper before. Nor does it include an index, which would be useful to allow quick reference to questions relating to specific topics and their answers.
On the whole, as a book presenting clinical science SBAs it excels, particularly as no other book addressing this format of exam exists. The authors have yet again kept abreast of recent developments in the structure of anaesthetic exams in the UK and any candidate planning on sitting such an exam would be well advised to utilise this well presented publication.
Specialty Registrar in Anaesthesia, Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, Nottingham, UK