Behind the Scenes of the FCEM Course


It was a great pleasure to deliver another successful Leicester FCEM Course on 14th & 15th April 2012. All the photos are here: http://on.fb.me/fcem-2012

Thanks to my co-organisers Dr Steven How, Dr Chris Yap and Dr Roger Dalton for making it happen. As ever, it has been a tremendous buzz working with such a dedicated and passionate team of Emergency Medicine consultants and educators.

Also, thanks to all the faculty and actors who gave up their weekend to make the course a reality. We absolutely could not run the course without the terrific support from the faculty and actors.

Each course requires 6 months of meticulous planning, preparation, teamwork and choreography. Few people realise just how much effort and attention to detail goes into each course.

It starts with the selection and preparation of the venue, faculty, equipment and catering. We have a pretty specific, unique and unusual set of requirements for the venue. We need a venue large enough to comfortably hold upto 100 people, that can provide not only ALS/APLS/ATLS manikins, defibrillators & moulage kit, but also manikins for fundoscopy, otoscopy and male & female intimate examinations. From 2013 we will need a venue that can provide an ultrasound machine.

To the careful and considered pairings of candidates and OSCE circuits. Contrary to popular belief, the OSCE pairings and allocations are NOT random! We have designed a number of rules which must be followed when making the OSCE allocations.

For example, candidates from the same region must be split up and must never be paired together. For the Viva day, candidates must not be examined by faculty members from their own region.

All the way down to making sure we have a stock of painkillers for when brains start overheating (typically, after the 3rd OSCE circuit of the day) 🙂

Each course has approximately 60-100 people (faculty, actors, candidates, sponsors & assistants), each doing something slightly different from everyone else at every minute of the day. Each person moves around the venue in their own unique and carefully choreographed way. No two people are doing the same thing at any time on the day of the course.


Late into the night, 6 hours before a course launches, the course organisers perform a final dry run of the OSCE circuits. One person in the wrong place at the wrong time can throw a big spanner into the whole circuit. Everything must be checked and double-checked.


This is the engine at the heart of the FCEM Course – 36 OSCE packs, the instructions, and the bell.


Meeting & greeting participants at the start of the OSCE Day.

As Course Director, the climax of the whole course is the moment which occurs at approximately 08.45am on the morning of the OSCE Day. The moment when all the faculty, actors and candidates have turned up, and are present & accounted for! All the pieces of the jigsaw have suddenly fallen into place. The months of preparation suddenly come into sharp focus at that point, and for the first time I can relax and start enjoying the day.

And the show can then begin…

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