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Royal College of Pathologists Candidate Information - 2012 TOXICOLOGY Part 1 & 2 Examinations This document must be read in conjunction

n with the current Regulations & Guidelines available on the College website and the material sent to candidates in response to an application to sit an examination. In the event of any difference in information or guidance the current Regulations and Guidelines will apply. 1 Introduction

The aim of the training programme in toxicology is to define the knowledge and skills required to achieve success in the College Fembership examination. Attainment of this goal will provide evidence that the candidate is competent to provide expert opinions in the chosen subspecialty of toxicology and has developed the appropriate level of professional knowledge that would be required of a consultant toxicologist leading a group or department. College membership is a mark of professional as opposed to academic distinction.

The Part 1 Examination.

Part 1 examinations are offered in 8 different subspecialty areas of: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. Analytical Toxicology Biochemical Toxicology Environmental/Occupational Toxicology Genotoxicology Medical Toxicology Immunotoxicology Reproductive/Developmental Toxicology Toxicological Pathology

Trainees are expected to be familiar with recent advances in the laboratory, regulatory and clinical (human and veterinary) aspects of their subject, as published in the scientific literature, and to maintain an appropriate knowledge of related disciplines. Based on the experience of trainees from academia and industry and in the absence of specific full-time training posts in toxicology, candidates are advised that, although no minimum period of study is specified in the college regulations, they are unlikely to satisfy the training requirements for the Toxicology Part 1 examination with less than 3 years postgraduate study.


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The Part 1 examination comprises written, practical, and oral components. The written component consists of two 3-hour papers, a general first paper and a second paper devoted to the chosen subspecialty. The first paper of the Part 1 written examination in Toxicology consists of 60 compulsory short answer questions (SAQs) to be completed in three hours. The questions will be subdivided into 15 separate groups that together cover the breadth of Toxicology. The questions are organised so that they can be answered in an average of three minutes although some questions will take considerably less time than this while others might take more. 1. The questions will be marked against a previously set model answer. 2. Marks will only be awarded for the information required by the question and no additional marks will be available for additional information. 3. Answers requiring more than a single word or phrase response will be answerable in a single sentence or a small number of sentences. Candidates should practice writing short, concise, answers, which include only the information requested. Good use of English, avoidance of abbreviations and clear handwriting are important. Candidates who write unnecessarily long answers are likely to penalise themselves and waste time. Each question will be allocated a single mark. Each SAQ paper will undergo a standard setting and assessment procedure and a pass mark of 50% will be used. A sample paper is available on the Colleges website at http://www.rcpath.org/index.asp?PageID=51 Paper 2 is an essay based paper requiring compulsory answering of four questions out of a choice of six, which will continue to be marked using the College closed marking system. Candidates will have to pass both papers for success although a marginal failure in one paper may be compensated for by a good pass in the other paper. Success in the written Part 1 papers permits the candidate to proceed to the practical and oral examination of the Part 1. This will be held during the Autumn session following success in the Spring Part 1 written papers. The practical and oral examination takes place over two days and consists of an interpretative exercise based upon the examination of case reports, raw data, photographs, gross pathology specimens and/or glass slides of histopathological lesions of toxicological relevance, depending on the specialty studied. A necropsy may or may not be included in the practical session depending on the chosen subspecialty. Those selecting the Toxicological Pathology subspecialty will be required to undertake a necropsy. Following this, an oral examination will assess the ability of the candidate to answer questions in a clear, concise manner. Any perceived shortfall in the written or practical part of the examination may be explored further during the oral examination, which will be expected to take approximately one hour. The marking system for the practical and oral examinations is based upon the structure of the examination.


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The Part 2 Examination

The Part 2 examination will usually be taken a minimum of two years after achieving success in the Part 1 examination. Application to sit the part 2 examination will follow agreement between the candidate and the sponsor that the candidate has progressed to the appropriate standard. Part 2 consists of a searching oral examination based upon one of the following areas to be chosen by the candidate at the time of application and may include an additional test of practical competence. Prior to embarking on the chosen option the candidate should seek the Colleges approval of their choice by contacting the Specialty Advisor. i. ii. A thesis resulting from study for a higher degree such as MSc, MPhil, MD or PhD. A dissertation on a subject to be agreed beforehand by the College Specialty (see more detailed description in the Regulations and Guidelines for College Examinations for Membership and Diplomas). A detailed case book (see more detailed description in the Regulations and Guidelines for College Examinations for Membership and Diplomas). A series of peer-reviewed published papers on an experimental theme with a critical commentary.

iii. iv.

During the conduct of the examination candidates will be required to furnish evidence of competency to a level such that the candidate is able to (i) provide guidance to junior staff as regards all of the topics listed in this section AND (ii) to provide consultant level opinion and leadership on all topics immediately relevant to their practice in their chosen subspecialty.


Many candidates will have experience in pharmaceutical, agrochemical or other types of product development, in academic or contract research environments, or in the National Health Service. Other areas that provide a suitable breadth of expertise include those working in analytical or forensic toxicology, the safety assessment of pesticides, agrochemicals, household or personal-care products, or in the more recently emerging areas of biotechnology and genomics. Candidates must achieve general awareness of all areas of toxicology with an understanding of the underlying scientific principles. This can be achieved through supervised and documented training and personal study, supplemented by attendance at tutorials, seminars and formal academic and professional meetings, and at practical training courses. Training visits to different laboratories may be desirable achieve the necessary breadth of knowledge, particularly for certain techniques. For at least the first year or so of supervised training, candidates should aim to acquire background knowledge in as many areas of the core programme as practicable. Thereafter there should be opportunity to obtain detailed theoretical and practical expertise in the chosen subspecialty. Candidates will be expected to show a critical attitude to experimental work, and will be encouraged to participate in, and give presentations at, appropriate scientific meetings. Whilst support for training must be forthcoming from senior staff, those who hope for a successful career in any branch of toxicology must exercise their own initiative in obtaining and making full use of training and development material.


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In house training programmes should be supplemented by attendance at formal training courses such as the MSc Toxicology courses offered by the Universities of Birmingham (see http://www.bham.ac.uk/course.asp?section=10000001000300010002) and Surrey (see http://www.surrey.ac.uk/SBMS/pg_taught_courses/postgraduate-info-htm), the MSc in Genetic Toxicology and Environmental Analysis sponsored by UKEMS and offered by the University of Wales at Swansea (see http://www.ukems.org/), and the Diploma/MSc in Medical Toxicology offered by the University of Wales at Cardiff (see http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/medicine/pharmacology/ttc/pge/diptox). Similar courses are offered in other parts of Europe and can be reached through the Eurotox website (see www.eurotox.com). In addition, regular symposia, and modular training courses, are run in the UK by the British Toxicology Society, British Society of Toxicological Pathologists, and UK Environmental Mutagen Society (see www.rcpath.org for further details).


Each candidate must have a sponsor, normally a Fellow of the College actively involved in toxicology, to guide and supervise the candidates training programme. Sponsors are expected to have substantial experience in the chosen subspecialty, to take an active interest in training, to have appropriate resources, to be involved in appropriate professional societies, and to liaise when necessary with College advisers. Candidates should register their interest in the Membership examination with the Speciality Advisor or the Trainee Representative at the start of their training. It is advisable that a formal training programme, agreed with their sponsor, is submitted for approval to the Toxicology Speciality Advisory Committee (SAC) in the early stages of training to ensure that all necessary areas are covered in preparation for the examination. All trainees are encouraged to keep a training record (see www.rcpath.org for examples). This should contain signed and dated records of formal and informal training including job responsibilities, types of work undertaken with times and dates, internal and external training programmes and courses attended, self-directed learning, scientific meetings attended, etc. A training record similar to that used for GLP (Good Laboratory Practice) purposes or the Association for Clinical Biochemistry Grade A Clinical Scientist Training Record (subspecialty Analytical Toxicology) can be used (www.acb.org.uk/training/documents/gradeA_tox.pdf). In order to maximise the candidates chances of success the sponsor should inspect the training record regularly and discuss the candidates progress on pre-arranged intervals. In addition, the candidate should be given every opportunity to discuss any aspect of their training programme. The sponsor should discuss the trainees progress with senior staff (especially toxicologists and senior laboratory technicians) with whom a trainee regularly interacts, and with line management. The trainee should have supportive appraisal at least annually; a regular formal cumulative assessment is recommended before the candidate sits the examination. It is advised that the sponsor and at least one other senior scientist, ideally a senior toxicologist from another institution, a College examiner or Registered Toxicologist should perform the appraisal. The Speciality Advisor or SAC may be called upon for further advice as necessary.


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