ACEM Curriculum Review

I was disappointed to read that the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine’s Curriculum Revision Project looks set to retain the traditional Primary Exam with anatomy, physiology, pharmacology and pathology papers.

I am sure the issue is more complicated than I appreciate but to get a little discussion going I would like to share an open letter to the College.


We need a green fields approach to this review, especially Primary Exam (aka Part One), rather trying to make anatomy, physiology, pathology and pharmacology look clinically relevant.

The core skills I need my junior trainees to have is: how to read an ECG like an ED doc, how to take a history like an ED doc, how to examine a patient and interpret the findings like an ED doc. Basic airway management, basic breathing management, basic circulatory management, etc. An approach to: chest pain, SOB, decreased LOC, shock, abdominal pain, trauma, anaphylaxis, asthma, COPD, “dizziness”, syncope, stoke, bleeding in early pregnancy, mass casualty, the poisoned patient etc etc.

In a clinically focused training they will learn some relevant anatomy, physiology etc but let’s make the training and the trainees fit for purpose.

Yes it will be harder to examine and to mark.

The proposed CRP looks like it will keep the trainees jumping through hoops, learning stuff to pass exams and continue to distract them from learning real emergency medicine and thus from helping our patients to the best of their abilities.

Emergency medicine should be leading the way in medical training not following along what the other colleges have always done.


Dr Chris Cresswell

If you have some feelings on this matter I suggest you email with your submission.

Leave a Reply