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Format of the Examination in Pain Medicine

Format of the Examination in Pain Medicine

The examination consists of written-only component that includes two, three-hour papers each containing 35-50 short answer questions. This examination assesses the candidate’s competence to function as a consultant Pain Specialist across the CanMEDS domains of Medical Expert, Communicator, Collaborator, Leader, Health Advocate, Scholar and Professional. The examination will test the candidate’s clinical competence in the evaluation, diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of patients with acute and chronic non-cancer and cancer pain, as well as prevention of symptoms, in a multidisciplinary framework. The examination will encompass knowledge of pain mechanisms, patient management and basic science.

The subjects covered in this examination will include, but are not limited to, foundational knowledge, acute pain management, addiction medicine, cancer pain management, musculoskeletal pain management, neurology and psychiatry, as well as pediatrics and sleep medicine as they pertain to comprehensive pain management. Foundational knowledge will include, but will not be limited to, anatomy, pharmacology and pathophysiology.

Questions may cover all competencies as described in the Objectives of Training in the Subspecialty of Pain Medicine.

Study materials include but are not limited to:

  • Self-Assessment Module for Pain Medicine (SAM-PM). SAM-PM is a self-study continuing medical education (CME) program that covers established knowledge in the subspecialty field of pain medicine. With the SAM-PM program you can assess areas of strength and weakness in pain medicine knowledge and target ongoing education in these areas. It is established by the combined efforts of the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) and the American Society of Regional Anesthesia (ASRA). Content includes 100 questions with answers, detailed discussions explaining the rationale for each answer and references for further study. Subscribers complete the program at their own pace and submit the answers online to receive CME credit.
  • Clinical Pain Management: A Practical Guide. Editors: Mary E Lynch, Kenneth D Craig and Philip WH Peng (Wiley-Blackwell). A book project of the Canadian Pain Society Education Special Interest Group covering the ISAP curriculum on pain medicine with concise summary of the topics.
  • Essentials of Pain Medicine and Regional Anesthesia. Editors: HT Benzon, SN Raja, SM Fishman, SS Lui. (Saunders-Elsevier). A popular book in the US used by trainees to prepare for examinations.
  • Wall & Melzack's Textbook of Pain, 6th Edition, 2013
  • Bonica's Management of Pain, 4th edition


  • Cancer Pain. Pharmacologic, Interventional, and Palliative Approaches. Editors: Oscar A. de Leon-Casasola, MD (Elsevier)


  • Medically Unexplained Symptoms, Somatization and Bodily Distress: Developing Better Clinical Services. Editors: Frances Creed, Peter Henningsen and Per Fink. (Cambridge Medicine)
  • DSM-5, American Psychiatric Association


  • Oxford Textbook of Paediatric Pain. Editors: Patrick J McGrath, Bonnie J Stevens, Suellen M Walker, William T Zempsky


  • Health Canada Medical Marijuana document
  • Basbaum AI, Bautista DM, Scherrer G, Julius D. Cellular and molecular mechanisms of pain. Cell 2009;139(2):267-284.
  • Canadian guideline for Safe and Effective Use of Opioids for Chronic Non-Cancer pain
  • Pharmacological management of chronic neuropathic pain: Revised consensus Canadian Pain Society, Pain Research Manag 2014;19(6):328-335.
  • Pelvic Pain Diagnosis and Management. Editors: Howard, Frederick. Lippincott, Williams, and Wilkins; Philadelphia: 2000.
  • World Health Organization 2012 measuring health and disability; Manual for WHO Disability Assessment Schedule, WHODAS 2, World Health Organization, 2010 Geneva
  • Kendall et al. Guide to Assessing Psycho-social Yellow Flags in Acute Low Back Pain. ACC & NZGG, Wellington, NZ. (2004 Ed.)
  • 2012 Canadian guidelines for the diagnosis and management of fibromyalgia syndrome
  • Quebec Task Force Scientific monograph of the Quebec Task Force on Whiplash-Associated Disorders
  • Headache Classification Subcommittee of the International Headache Society. The International Classification of Headache disorders: 2nd Edition.

Revised June 2016