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Format of the Comprehensive Objective Examination in HEMATOLOGY

Comprehensive objective examinations seek to obtain a more complete evaluation of the candidate's strengths and weaknesses. The important feature of comprehensive objective examinations is that candidates do not need to pass the written component in order to take the oral component. Success or failure is based on consideration of all components of the examination. The comprehensive objective examinations are considered a whole and cannot be fragmented. Candidates who are unsuccessful at this examination must, if within their period of eligibility, repeat all components of the examination.

  1. Written component

    The written component consists of one three-hour paper comprised of approximately 35-60 Short-Answer Questions designed to evaluate the factual knowledge of hematology. This includes basic science, laboratory science, investigation, diagnosis, treatment toxicities and mechanisms of action, pediatric diseases, supportive care, epidemiology and critical appraisal. Questions may cover all competencies as described in the Objectives of Training for Hematology.

    Materials may include photographic reproductions as a basis for some of the examination. A table of normal values will be provided.

    SAMPLE SAQ EXAM

  2. Practical (Morphology) component

    The goal of this component is to evaluate the candidate’s proficiency in interpretation of blood smears as well as bone marrow aspirates (trails and squashes) and biopsies. The questions are based on the Objectives of Training for Hematology.

    The candidate will interpret approximately 30 digital images over approximately two and one half hours. Each slide will be accompanied by a clinical data that may include: the patient’s age, gender and peripheral blood counts. The candidate will rotate through five stations each of which will house one computer with six images. The digital images will be represented by the ImageScope Viewer software and will be viewed on the computer by the candidates. Practice slides are available. The digital files are large and refreshing of the image will not be instantaneous. It is strongly recommended that one allow an image to finish loading/refreshing before changing magnification once again.

    The candidate should record the most important morphological findings and a differential diagnosis based on the findings. Two points will be allocated per item, one for the description of the findings and one for the differential diagnosis. Each paper will be marked by two examiners.

    An orientation with the Chair of the Examination Board will occur prior to this portion of the examination.

    This component is taken at the Royal College site in Ottawa.

  3. Oral component

    During this component the candidate will be asked to apply consultancy skills in clinical circumstances, including knowledge, problem solving, communication, organization, and ethics. Each case may focus on different aspects i.e., investigation, diagnosis, management, to varying degrees. The questions are based on the Objectives of Training for Hematology, as determined by the Specialty Committee.

    The oral component involves discussion of 12 clinical scenarios. The candidate will receive clinical and laboratory information prior to meeting with the examiners. The candidate will have 60 minutes alone with this information to review the cases, the attached questions, and note any thoughts. The candidate will be allowed to bring these notes with them as they circulate through the stations with the examiners. More information may be provided by the examiner including results of requested investigations, new clinical developments or pertinent results.

    The candidate will discuss blocks of three cases (i.e. 1-3, 4-6, etc.) in four different stations with one examiner at each station. Each station lasts 24 minutes, for an average of 8 minutes per case. The candidate is responsible for managing their time. There is a clock in each room.

    An orientation with the Chair of the Examination Board will occur prior to this portion of the examination.

    This component is taken at the Royal College site in Ottawa.

    SAMPLE ORAL SCENARIO

Revised September 2017