In an open conversation with StudyMEDIC Co-founder & COO Dr Sowmya NS, Dr Sambit Mukhopadhyay talks about the future plans of EBCOG. Dr Sam is an Obstetrician and Gynaecologist originally from India. Dr Sam has been an EFOG-EBCOG examiner for many years of EFOG-EBCOG Exam and he currently holds the chair as EBCOG Treasurer.
The interview was done while Dr Sam was with StudyMEDIC for the two days live circuit course held in India at the D Y Patil University – School of Medicine Campus, Nerul, Navi Mumbai.
Thank you for asking that question. The EBCOG Fellowship Exam was introduced in 2016. The whole idea of this exam is to assess candidates’ or trainees’ knowledge, skills, and attitudes at the registrar level, at a competent registrar level, at the year four or five, depending on the country they have completed their training.
One has to remember that this is not a curriculum exam. But having this fellowship adds value to your CV, which is a feather in your cap, and adds extra glamour to your CV. That is where EBCOG exam stands at the moment.
The EBCOG Fellowship Exam has got two parts. As you know, it’s Part One and Part 2 OSCE. In Part 1, we assess one’s knowledge through multiple questions like SBAs and EMQs. Now, when we first started our exam, it was an exam that was done online compared to other specialist societies’ exams.
During the COVID pandemic, with our collaborator which is also from Sweden, we realized that we can even administer this theory exam, even without a physical centre. In fact, the candidates can sit in their study rooms in their homes and take the exam, and above all, this is by employing artificial intelligence.
Only one candidate can be in the exam room with the computer and if there is any intrusion or anybody, it automatically locks you out. So, this is something we learned during the pandemic. Now, during the pandemic, we couldn’t do exams in one year because of the regulations and the risk of infection, as you all know.
So, what we have done is we need an online OSCE exam. But general agreement is we cannot assess the technical skills, the complex technical skills and some aspects of communication unless we have a face-to-face session. The Part 2 is the OSCE part of the exam and it is basically to check the communication skills and technical skills through a series of tasks.
As you would know to look after our patients, we need good communication, we need good skills. And to improve that, we have introduced this exam and that is where EBCOG comes into improve the standards of training and that will benefit women’s health, not just in Europe, but even beyond.
Can any competent candidate with a couple of years’ experience do the European Board Exams?
It depends on the country. As per EBCOG regulations, the aspirant should have at least four years of postgraduate training actually to take the EFOG-EBCOG exam. But in some European countries, they require five years .But in general, candidates require four years to prepare. You can get the details on the EBCOG website.
Is a course recommended for a practising OB GYN? If yes, why so?
The EBCOG exam is set on the backdrop of a European Medical Practice or Western Medical Practice. It has become popular throughout the world, and the candidates are not always exposed to the nuances, if I may say, in many western medical practice. EBCOG exam tempts the candidates very close to western medical practice.
And one of the reasons they need something to practice is a Course. And there they can get some sort of experience; they can get that level of expert input as well. So that is the reason I think attending courses is necessary both for the Part 1 and also for Part 2 OSCE, and more for the Part 2 OSCE because it is a face-to-face exam.
The complex technical skills and even the Power Point presentation is not very easy. Because I think most of them are similar in the exam, these two tasks are separate when compared to the other things.
[These are the tasks not new. These are the tasks we always do in our routine clinical practice. If you are managing a labour ward or if you are the on-call specialist in your department, say you just walk in the morning and you see in Room 13 there is an eclamptic fit.] . This paragraphs needs to be checked.
And in this day and age, you need multi-professional care. You need a multi-professional approach. And that is what we are testing in this exam. That is exactly what we are testing. And if the candidates are able to do that, then they are at a high standard and they would be able to deliver good level of care to patients.
You talked about Power Point presentations. We are giving them ten minutes or eleven minutes to do a Power Point presentation. And again, this is our day-to-day practice, often when you are a specialist, you are a leader.
The Chief Executive may just ask you to come and do some presentation. You don’t have much time, or even in the governance meeting, you have to do a presentation.
This is the thing we check, how they can sort things about a certain aspect of a medical problem, how can they put it in a very short presentation within few minutes and how good they articulate it. So, it is testing their cognition, it is also testing their articulation skills.
You were with StudyMEDIC for two days of our Live Circuit Course for EFOG-EBCOG Part 2 OSCE. What are your thoughts on the course? How organized it was?
First of all, I like to thank about the centre where you have organized this course. This is a purpose built centre. A simulation centre which is ideal for running OSCEs. You have got fantastic resources, mannequin, simulators and all.
It is amazing state of the art. You have chosen a pretty good centre and that’s too good. And I must say, the examiners you have, the assessors you have, are all also well motivated. Nevertheless, I have to mention about the medical students, which really brings me joy to see that they are so much involved in the course, and they also give feedback to the candidates. So, no doubt, this is a great organization.
Thank you for being so kind, Sam. And also, I wanted to know because when you sit on the other side as a candidate, so probably this would give a feel of the mock because we had two circuits yesterday and today, as you saw, there is definitely an improvement in the way they do.
I think this would give them the confidence to attend their mocks in a better way.
We saw across all these eight or nine stations. Yeah, nine plus one stations. The feedback was they were better than yesterday. So, what we have done in the last 24 hours is that, we have given them a little push and we have given them the building blocks.
Now, they need to work on it in reality. If they start working on it, that is what you can do as a course organizer. You are not spoon-feeding them. That is the most important part. What you are giving them is the opportunity. That is what you have done in a very nice coordinated way. Above all, the staff around you have been fantastic.
Thank you, Sam.
And then I also want to know because there is always a query about the EBCOG exam frequency. So you guys, in future, do you have any plan to make it more frequent? Because as you can see, the overseas candidates, there are a lot of people who have been actually now taking these exams and they are in a huge number, who would want to click on the thing, but probably the frequency of the exams. Any idea to increase the frequency and things like that?
Yes, we have seen in our recent executive meeting that 66% of candidates taking the EBCOG exam this year had been from outside Europe, which shows the popularity of the exam beyond the shores of Europe. We had discussed this already because some of the overseas candidates cannot take it because of the immigration procedures. So, it is for us to discuss whether we can have an exam twice a year. Theory exam as well as the OSCE exam we would like to do abroad. Thefore, it will help the candidates to attend the exam close to their homes.
I can’t promise it yet. But we’ll be working on it.
Working on it is very important, and I think EBCOG has always great demand from overseas candidates. So, that is something which is very vital. You mentioned in the beginning that. As of now, it would add a lot of value to one’s CVs. So, as a candidate who is working in their own country, what additional advantage they might expect for taking this EBCOG exams?
You see, there are certain things which are difficult to get experienced because of the structure in which the health system works in many countries outside Europe, particularly about risk management, and governance issues. Now, the idea of EBCOG is not telling you to change the system.
The idea of taking the exam will depend on the students and how they become aware of it. And once the awareness grows, then you create ambassadors for EBCOG throughout various countries. These ambassadors in turn will be looking at women’s health needs, and will be looking at improving the care of women and their babies.
By educating them about this governance aspect, you produce better quality doctors. So, this is what we are trying is to improve women’s health through training and education.
Yeah, that is really good because basically we are all working towards women’s health. And if you actually have lots of people who are working at the grass-root level from wherever they are, you are empowering with the knowledge. That is more important.
That is the idea, actually. Yes. Thank you, Sam, for giving us your time. I know you have been with us for two days, and you have give us so much inputs. I am sure, the candidates were not tired of asking you doubts because they would want to know the Europractice and how well you have been. Really, really helpful. Thank you so much for joining us. It is really a wonderful experience. Thank you.