RCEM Curriculum 2021 and Changes to FRCEM Exams

It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted something here, largely because there hasn’t been much interesting to talk about this year. I live under a rock, you see. Seriously though, there hasn’t been much change to MRCEM/FRCEM and the EM parallel pathway in Malaysia. The current trainees are just pushing along and making their paths. Give another 2 years or so, they’ll complete their programme and be able to share their experience and help to build on the pathway.

Meanwhile, RCEM has just announced last month that their long awaited curriculum update will be launched from August 2021; it will bring forth a new framework of competencies and many changes in exams.

I’m sure you’ve all read the RCEM 2015 Curriculum which sets out all the clinical, procedural and common competencies expected from UK trainees year by year. The new proposed framework will instead follow a new list of professional competencies that RCEM thinks is crucial for a practicing EM Consultant in the UK. Formal information on this is scarce but St Emlyn’s Blog has kindly shared the list and they are based in Manchester, UK so they are a reliable source.

The more important issue for Malaysian EM Parallel Pathway trainees is the change of exams it will bring. Attached below is a summary of the changes shared from the FRCEM/MRCEM Malaysia Support Group on Facebook:

As you can see, a lot of exams, even SAQs are going away. Instead there will be purely SBAs (single best answer aka MCQ) and OSCEs. MRCEM OSCE is also returning as a compulsory exam.

So for those of you at various junctures of the exam, perhaps you would like to consider holding back on sitting exams that will no longer be required after August 2021. After all, the Parallel Pathway requires Primary+Intermediate SAQ+SJP+MRCEM OSCE before trainees are allowed to proceed to the higher specialty training year. That’s 1 extra exam and associated fees to save.

On the other hand, I don’t know how Critical Appraisal and QIP are going to be assessed for the Parallel Pathway holders. For the UK trainees, they are required to submit an audit or QIP every year to pass each training year so that’s easily covered, but Critical Appraisal on portfolio is a question mark for them too. For Malaysia, ED Masters students have to write a thesis to graduate, so I can foresee the Malaysian College of EPs introducing that in (as suggested by Dr Mahathar at the first Parallel Pathway briefing back in 2016). QIPs are also no challenge to implement as they are just formally written reports of our efforts to improve department KPIs. On the other hand, if RCEM makes it such that only the formal exams are necessary to award FRCEM, then MYCEP can set whatever requirements they want to recognise Parallel Pathway EPs. Essentially, we don’t know how the change in exams will affect Parallel Pathway trainees, but they won’t be unpredictable or complicated.

Any questions just drop them and I will see who I can probe for answers. Otherwise I will come up with my own conspiracy theories to test your reasoning and judgement skills.

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Previously served in a West Malaysian ED, I became an MRCEM diploma holder in 2018. I started this blog to help those interested in pursuing the exam, whether to aid in their Malaysian Masters in EM application or the new FRCEM Parallel Pathway. Feel free to ask questions under the relevant posts.

4 thoughts on “RCEM Curriculum 2021 and Changes to FRCEM Exams”

  1. Hai, so my fiance is actually really interested in going for FRCEM, but she is actually a foreigner and we are really not sure on how to proceed from this point onward. She had her valid medical license in her country, and currently on the process of applying a medical license with the MMC. Any suggestions on this matter? We are afraid that she wouldn’t be able to get her training for her log book after the part 1. Thank uou


    1. I’m afraid I don’t have any useful suggestions. She is probably going to face a number of difficult hurdles.

      Problem 1: Medical License. MMC registration is not the main challenge; it’s the fact that you must have worked in a government healthcare facility ie a KKM Hospital or a University Hospital, to qualify for an Annual Practicing Certificate that is challenging. Locals are already struggling to get a place these days, a foreigner will probably find it impossible.

      Problem 2: Supervision in training. Strictly speaking, you do not need to be in a government hospital to qualify for the FRCEM. But the setup for it ie multispecialty rotations, designated supervisor, etc. makes it impossible to do in the current private healthcare sector, because no private hospital I know works like that.

      In short, Malaysia is currently an impossible place to start for the non-consultant foreign doctor. The easiest way is probably for her to specialise in her home country, or some other country that’s easy to enter training (eg UK), and then try to apply to KKM as a specialist instead.


      1. Thank you for the insight. When the parallel pathway was first introduced in 2018, there was talk of negotiating with RCEM to scrap the QIP requirement for Malaysian candidates in lieu of a thesis as per traditional Malaysian EP training. QIP is a foreign concept in Malaysia.

        What might happen is that Malaysian candidates will have to go to UK for a year and quickly complete a QIP, although that would be quite challenging if they have never done a QIP before.


  2. Hi, hope you are progressing well in your training. In the Rep of Ireland, the QIP is still being kept as a requisite for completion of training. The only difference is that the project will be marked locally instead of the current standard of external examination from RCEM. The logistics of the new system have not been made public yet. Nevertheless, I do not foresee this being an option in Malaysia as there probably would not be sufficient FRCEM-trained EPs to examine the QIPs.


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