ESA Examinations Committee Chair
To our ESA members, colleagues, fellow examiners, candidates,
I am writing to you in these difficult times for us all, hoping that first and foremost you are safe in your work environment and that in this COVID-19 battle your institution and you are on the winning side. Like many of you, I am also on the front line in this battle and this very evening will be covering emergency theatre during a 13-hour night shift in my hospital. I may or may not come across SARS-2 infected patients but at the very least my hospital now is in the position to offer us full personal protection equipment for all emergency surgeries.
Some of you might have read my 2019 Examinations Committee (ExC) report and our plans for 2020. You would have learnt from it that EDAIC is in its best shape and truly became a worldwide phenomenon venturing far away from the shores of Europe. All the records in the numbers of candidates for all parts of the EDAIC (OLA, Part I and Part II) were once again surpassed, Part II places oversubscribed and we were expecting yet another successful year which is coincidentally my final year as Chairman of the Examinations Committee.
But as they say: “If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans”.
The mighty King “COVID the 19th” from the evil Kingdom of SARS, decided that 2020 being a leap year, is a good one to launch his assault on humanity. This led to us at the ExC to think of alternative strategies. But first of all, I have to tell you that the latest On-Line Assessment (OLA) scheduled for April 17, for which an unprecedented number of 1921 candidates were registered, had to be postponed. Moreover, we sadly had to postpone 8 and cancel 1 (Sao Paulo, Brazil) out of 16 Part II 2020 centres. The postponed centres are Madrid, Hamburg, Istanbul, Uppsala, Maastricht, Barcelona, Zurich and Warsaw. The latter centre was supposed to run on 4-5 July 2020 and then the autumn season was going to be restarted with Vienna on 30-31 August 2020.
We hope to get things moving again with this new schedule.
The new date for OLA is now 26.06.2020. In the context of the pandemic, we realise that no date can please every centre across all OLA countries, so the ExC had to choose a date following this logic: we must keep a date that is as far as possible from the peak of the pandemic in Europe to prevent all the problems that come with it, while keeping OLA outside of the summer break and at least 2-3 months before the Part I examination because OLA is used in many countries as a training tool for the Part I exam. Also, we will strive to run it for The Netherlands and Moldova as these are the only two countries where this type of assessment is mandatory.
As for the Part I exam, we still hope that we will be able to keep the original date of 12.09.2020. In case the threat of COVID-19 continues at this time, we may have to carefully action another plan of postponement. This will be a perilous exercise as EDAIC Part I is mandatory in several countries inside and outside Europe.
The most difficult logistical problem is how to rearrange Part II exams. But fear not as we have done some thinking. The dates booked for the autumn examinations will be extended and we will offer a new date to all candidates booked for the exams that were scheduled from March to July (except for Sao Paulo, which is unfortunately impossible as it was attached to the cancelled COPA congress). We hope this huge organisational effort will allow most candidates who registered for Part II this year to still take their examination and obtain the European Diploma in 2020.
Also, the above plan will only work provided we prevail and defeat this nasty modern plague in all countries, and provided that “King COVID the 19th” does not have enough strength to send a second or even a third wave of his vicious soldiers upon us. So, keep an eye on the ESA website and official announcements sent by the ESA Office for more precise information in the near future. But above all stay safe at work, look after yourselves and your loved ones, survive this epidemic to become stronger and better doctors mentally and professionally, be proud of what changes you can make in the lives and well-being of so many patients and collaterally their families. Like the EDAIC, this pandemic is a truly global phenomenon and we should be all united in this fight. Never in modern history has the expertise of being an Anaesthetist or Intensivist been in such demand as during this ordeal that the whole of mankind is going through. I am certainly proud to be part of our profession, now more than ever.
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