600 MCQs in Anaesthesia: Clinical Practice. 2nd Ed. N. W. GOODMAN, C. JOHNSON. Churchill Livingstone, Edinburgh, 1996. Price £12.50, pp. 285.
The new edition of this book will help candidates to prepare for the Fellowship of the Royal College of Anaesthetists (FRCA) and Part I of the European Diploma in Anaesthesiology (EDA) of the European Academy of Anaesthesiology. This book, which provides examination preparation with Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ) on Clinical practice, completes the series of books on basic sciences applied to anaesthesia. To be able to reply in the time allotted to the MCQ questions, trainees need technical training.
The modifications to the new editions are important and welcome. Most of the questions have been modified and about one fifth of them are entirely new. As in the case of the EDA Examination Committee each year, each question has been reviewed. The wording is simplified to make the questions clearer and many branches are altered to adapt the content to changes in knowledge, the introduction of new drugs and recent techniques. The structure of the second edition is much more adapted to hold the trainee's attention during the self-assessment. Ten papers of 60 mixed questions to be answered in 1 3/4 h have been replaced by 20 papers of 30 mixed questions in 45 min. Many questions have a shortened stem and branches, which makes the questions clearer and easier to understand, but not always to answer. The main drawbacks of an MCQ cannot be avoided. For example, in a question (1.4) concerning inherited disorders likely to cause problems during anaesthesia one branch may be irrelevant (such as Down's syndrome), another one is false (acromegaly). It is not an inherited disease even if it causes problems during anaesthesia.
Such a problem means that the preparation for an examination based upon MCQs requires not only an improvement in knowledge but also an ability to detect the subtleties of the question. Such a book is absolutely necessary for training in this kind of examination and provides the possibility for a self-assessment.
Comments about the answers are limited to some branches, true or false; and sometimes the explanation should be discussed further. The absence of quoted references is a choice of the authors but trainees often wish to know which book is considered to be essential reading. Some standard texts reflect only an individual opinion and a consensus is sometimes difficult to find.
A lot of practical information concerning the scoring system is also available.
This book should be warmly recommended. It will be very useful for the trainees preparing for the FRCA and the EDA but also familiarizes the teachers with this type of examination.