Emergency medicine has been recognized as a basic speciality in 17 countries in Europe and it is a supraspeciality in a further five countries. The European Society for Emergency Medicine has achieved the legal status of an international nonprofit organization wherein individuals and national societies for emergency medicine may find help and support from colleagues throughout Europe and beyond 1,2.
The need for development of a European examination to mark the completion of training in emergency medicine had already been recognized by the working group of the European Curriculum for Emergency Medicine, which was published in 2009 3,4. Five years later, this objective has been achieved. While the harmonization and integration of training centres and training programmes in Europe is not yet complete, these 5 years have seen many steps taken by our speciality towards these goals 5,6.
In October 2012, the Union Européenne des Médecins Spécialistes/European Union of Medical Specialists (UEMS) Multidisciplinary Joint Committee on Emergency Medicine was dissolved and the UEMS Council approved the creation of a Section and Board of Emergency Medicine. One of the aims of the section is to help apply the recommendations of UEMS and the Council of European Specialist Medical Assessments (CESMA) for training and assessment to the speciality of emergency medicine 7,8.
The EuSEM and the UEMS Board of Emergency Medicine created a working group in November 2010 for the development of a European Board Examination in Emergency Medicine based on the criteria suggested by the CESMA Declaration of Standards for European Board Exams – namely,
- to have clarity on eligibility criteria for sitting the exam,
- to be considered a label of excellence,
- to be complementary or an alternative to national examinations (where appropriate),
- to be based on a well-defined curriculum.
The European Board Examination in Emergency Medicine is exclusively based on the European curriculum 3 and is made up of two parts. Part A is provided online through an electronic platform and consists of 120 multiple choice questions that assess knowledge on clinical and basic sciences. Part B is based on eight different clinical scenarios (OSCEs and VIVAs) that assess different competences and nontechnical skills such as leadership and communication skills, professional ethics and organizational ability.
Candidates eligible for this exam include specialists in emergency medicine, trainees in the speciality of emergency medicine in their final year of training, and doctors who are working full time in the emergency department, even if they do not hold a formal speciality certificate in emergency medicine. This decision was taken because in a number of European countries, although doctors have undergone a training programme and are working as specialists, emergency medicine is either not yet recognized as a speciality or is in its very early stages of development. The opportunity to sit for this exam will help standardize knowledge and competences among European emergency doctors.
The part A examination was held for the first time in November 2013, simultaneously in five European countries: Italy, Belgium, Germany, Malta and the UK. There were 125 eligible applicants, originating from European and non-European countries. One hundred candidates were accepted and 80 candidates attempted the examination on 10 November 2013. The system worked well, minor problems were promptly resolved and the overall satisfaction of candidates was high. The pass mark was set at 70% and the pass rate was 55%.
Most of the successful candidates from the inaugural part A examination have already applied for the part B exam, which will be held in Italy, in the University of Eastern Piedmont of Novara, in May 2014. Potential examiners have been recruited from all over Europe according to set criteria, and these examiners will themselves be given training in the skills required to assess the candidates. A Diploma Ceremony will be held during the opening of the next European Congress on Emergency Medicine in Amsterdam on 28 September 2014.
The organization of the European Board Examination in Emergency Medicine has been a challenging task but we believe that it is a fundamental and historic step towards universal recognition in Europe for the discipline of emergency medicine. We know that ‘learning is driven by assessment’ 9 and we look forward to this examination leading to improvements in the knowledge and skills of emergency physicians throughout Europe.
Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.
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