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  • Writer's pictureDr. Simon Moore

Important Changes to the Canadian Family Medicine Certification Examination for 2016

Editor's note (April 1, 2016) - Thank you for the many e-mail inquiries we have received regarding the post below. In case you are considering e-mailing us about this post, please kindly read to the end, as many of the questions we have received are answered in the post below.

TORONTO - The Canadian Certification Examination for Family Practice is expected to undergo major changes for 2016, including a change to a new "open-book" format, according to an announcement sent to residency program directors Thursday.

"Family physicians and family practice residents increasingly use point-of-care resources to aid their clinical practice, so it only makes sense that the examination assesses readiness for actual clinical practice in the same way," said the announcement from Dr. Susanne Leblanc, Chair of the College Examinations Office. "In other words, candidates taking the exam will soon be allowed to access point-of-care resources on the Internet in real time, during the examination."

The four major changes to the Certification Examination, tabled at an executive meeting of the Board of Governors on March 31, include the following: 1. "Open-Book Format"

Starting in 2016, candidates will soon be allowed to use reliable point-of-care resources such as UpToDate, WebMD, and the Toronto Star during the Family Practice examination. Certain conditions will have to be met, however; candidates will be allowed to access this information only by means of a Blackberry mobile device as the College deems these to be the only device that meets their rigorous security standards. (The College is anticipating that Apple devices, such as iPhones, may be approved for use by 2019; Android devices were not mentioned in the announcement).

2. New topics covered

New topics will be added to the Priority Topics and Key Features document (also known as the "99 topics") to reflect changes in the medical literature. Candidates will need to be familiar with (and able to demonstrate):

- Point-of-care ultrasound for diagnosis of pericardial tamponade, appendicitis, and pernicious anemia;

- Administration of natural and herbal supplements, including balms, salves, tinctures, and amber necklaces;

- Unique skills specific to walk-in clinic medicine;

- 27 new medications for Type 2 Diabetes and 633 new inhaled medications for COPD; - Botulinum toxin injection for wrinkle treatment; - Provision of effective medical care via evolving technologies such as Facebook and/or Snapchat 3. Obsolete topics removed

The announcement also provides a list of items that will no longer be covered on the examination. "Since one of our priorities is to ensure that there are no more than 99 topics for family medicine trainees to study, we are eliminating a few of the topics that are less relevant to the practice of family medicine," explained Dr. Leblanc.

Current topics now deemed irrelevant and slated for removal include

- Bloodletting - FIFE

- Breaking Good News - Hypertension

4. Changes to SOOs

To reflect actual clinical practice, oral exam stations will see an increase in the number of patient problems from 2 to 9, including a written disability form completion in each station. As well, the length of each oral exam station will be reduced from 15 minutes to 6, again to reflect the challenges of actual clinical practice. More information, including the complete announcement and details of the implementation date, can be found here.

Editor's note (April 1, 2016) - Thank you again for the many e-mails we have received regarding clarifications about the above post. As you'll see by clicking on the link above, and in case you haven't noticed already, this was our April Fool's joke - we hope you enjoyed it!

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