How do you train in Pain Medicine?
Acute pain and some chronic pain are included in the basic level core competencies. Specialist pain training in the UK now consists of 20 half-day sessions at ST 3–4 (compulsory for all anaesthetists), a four to 12 week block in Higher Training and a 12 month block in Advanced Training.
Higher pain medicine training may be a stand-alone optional experience for those wanting a career as part of an acute pain medicine team. Trainees embarking on a pain medicine career with substantial commitment undertake an advanced year and usually spend this in a single tertiary pain centre, or a number of units each with differing educational opportunities. During this, training experience is gained in consultation skills, pain procedures and learning how to manage a clinic.
All advanced trainees are encouraged to spend time in clinics with other allied specialties, for example rheumatology or neurosurgery, gaining insight into diagnosis and management in these respective specialties. We are also given the freedom to develop ‘special interests’ in pain medicine from ‘dropdown’ parts of the Advanced Pain Medicine curriculum in paediatric pain medicine, cancer pain medicine and spinal cord stimulation.
The FFPMRCA exam was established in 2012 covering both practical clinical knowledge and knowledge of relevant sciences. It is similar in structure to the final FRCA with an initial written exam consisting of MTF (multiple true/false), SBA (single best answer) and EMQ (extended matching questions). If that is passed it is followed by two structured oral examinations: one clinical and one on relevant basic sciences. The aim of the examination is to enhance the practice of pain medicine in the UK and ultimately benefit patient care.
Having completed this new robust training scheme, pain trainees are entering into the ever changing and expanding field of pain medicine practice
The curriculum for Pain Medicine is part of the CCT in Anaesthetics. There are modules for Basic and Intermediate (which all Anaesthetists undertake) and for Higher and Advanced (which Pain Medicine specialist undertake).