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FRCPath & CESR - Dr Asar's experience

  • June 16, 2021

BDI Resourcing had the absolute pleasure of speaking with NHS Consultant Histopathologist, Dr Amal Asar.

Here, Dr Asar gives insight into her experiences with the FRCPath examinations and the CESR process…

1) Why did you decide to take the FRCPath examinations?

This was basically because I wanted to obtain a clinical internationally recognised certification in Histopathology, and in the process gain more insight into the UK practice, learn more and challenge myself.

2) What advice would you have for Histopathologists considering the FRCPath examinations?

I would say that it can be daunting and it may feel like an unachievable task, particularly if you have never been exposed to the UK practice, but if it is something you really want - whether it is because you need to travel or to just add to your CV- just set your trajectory, and breakdown this task into timed objectives. Start by acquainting yourself to the exam stations and curriculum, know your weaknesses in the light of what you learned about the exam and connect with a community who share the same journey. The community is crucial, since it can open your eyes to resources and courses that can prove very useful in this undertaking.

Once you have passed these check points, draft a plan of tasks you need to do each month to be exam ready, and use both books and online resources to help you with your prep.

3) What is one thing that you wish you knew before you took the exam?

It is not something I wish I knew, it is rather something to remind yourself with throughout the process; you will never feel exam ready, you will always worry that maybe I need more time. So rather than wait to feel ready, set a realistic time when you want to sit the exam, and work towards it. Also, you need to have solid nerves throughout the exam and manage your time wisely, particularly in the viva stations.

4) How long after passing your FRCPath did you then decide to relocate to the UK?

To be completely honest, plans to travel to the UK were always in the background- that it would be something I would do one day after passing the exam- to put the standards I learned for the exam into practice and gain some UK experience; but I never set a time frame. It was a mere coincidence when I was approached with opportunities shortly after the results came out, and within 6 months of passing the exam, I moved to the UK.

5) What did your job search look like?

So again, because I was approached with a number of vacancies simultaneously I only had to assess these opportunities and balance quality of life, CESR support and work complexity factors to come to a decision.

6) What advice would you give to a Histopathologist preparing for their first NHS interview?

First of all, you have passed the exam; which is a very difficult step to achieve and it shows that you know a thing or two about Histopathology, so trust yourself J. The second thing would be to acquaint yourself with the NHS managerial structure and processes such as clinical governance, incident reporting and quality control, in addition of course to all the technical issues pertaining to Histopathology. Familiarise yourself with your CV and your previous roles and be ready to talk about these in depth if prompted. Finally know what you need to ask the interviewing panel about. This can be the support they can offer to ease the transition to the new job, CESR support, rota structure and so on. You can also discuss any areas of Histopathology that you are not particularly comfortable with or did not usually do in your previous roles and discuss whether it will be a core part of your job and how to tackle this. This can help reduce the stress that comes with the job and primes the department that you will need some support or shadowing in that particular area, which will help set the expectations of all the parties involved.

7) How have you applied your knowledge of FRCPath in the NHS?

Well, I am not quite sure how to answer this, since Histopathology is a universal science and the diagnostic criteria are the same worldwide. However, FRCpath preparation definitely gave me an insight regarding certain aspects of Histopathology practice in the UK, such as the reporting datasets, screening programmes, quality improvement procedures and EQAs.

8) How has your Trust been able to help you with your CESR?

The trust is really supportive, and they understand how a mammoth-effort the CESR can be. They have allocated a weekly time in my job plan for me so that I can focus on evidence collection and other aspects of the CESR requirements. They connected me with departments and networks that can take me in for certain placements to complete some of the lacking competencies such as Paediatric pathology and cytology.

9) How are you finding the CESR process so far?

It is a work in progress really, the more time that passes the more I learn and understand about what is expected of me to be granted the CESR. The only constant is that it is a massive effort and requires a lot of organisation and vigilance to complete the evidence – both prospectively and retrospectively.

10) As an NHS Histopathologist, what does working towards CESR look like on a daily basis?

Again I am still learning, and I don’t think daily basis really fits the model. I would say it’s a weekly review of all the things you have done through the week, and which of these can count towards the CESR evidence. This can be in the form of a difficult case which you will put as a case note, or a note to add to your reflection journal, or a compliment you have received that you may need to document. It also includes all the reports you have taken a second opinion on during the week or ones that were supplemented by molecular tests to anonymise and add to your evidence bundle. This is not an exhaustive list, and I think the tasks you need to encompass varies from one week to the next.

If you’re an international Histopathologist, looking for an exciting opportunity with the NHS, that will help you on your way to becoming a Consultant, send your CV in to our specialist, George. [email protected]


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