Book Review - Practice cases for the CSA

Dr Leke Asong reviews a collection of case studies and other interesting insights on the CSA examination.

Passing the clinical skills assessment in the final year of GP training is every registrar's ambition.

The CSA is a relatively new exam, explaining the scarcity of books on the market dedicated to it.

Because the exam tests candidates on typical cases encountered in general practice, there are an infinite number of possible consultation scenarios.

nMRCGP Practice Cases aims to give the candidate a general grounding in the CSA, starting with the basics of a good consultation, and going through some typical cases frequently encountered. This text copes brilliantly with the difficult task of providing essential information in a single volume.

The book is peppered with tips and areas of pitfalls, as well as written cases, allowing for an interactive approach.

The first chapter sets the scene for the CSA exam. Important information about the part of role players is also explained.

In the next chapter Dr Peter Havelock, developer of the GP consultation model, adds more depth.

In my opinion, this is a very important short chapter that touches on the consultation observation tool, assessment criteria, relationship of the CSA to the curriculum, and different theories of learning.

In another useful chapter, a successful candidate shares tips on how she found the CSA.

Practice cases
The bulk of the book then comprises a variety of case studies.

Each case has a set format, starting with instructions to the candidate or case notes, a brainstorm page, tips, instructions to role player (patient), and notes, and finally a page or two on relevant guidelines or further explanatory notes to clarify problem areas.

Under the notes section are the domains in which the CSA cases are scored. These include information gathering, clinical management and interpersonal skills.

The information is written in bullet points, and each case can be used in a group environment in an interactive manner - with candidates alternating between playing the doctor and patient roles.

There are many useful short pieces and guidelines throughout, for example ACE inhibitors and renal artery stenosis, or smoking cessation guidelines, just to name a few.

This book does a great job of touching on a broad category of cases, spanning cardiovascular, respiratory, women's health, musculoskeletal, endocrine, paediatric and mental health.

A book of this sort should be used wisely. Practice the cases provided and reflect on the points included.

Remember to also go through this process during everyday surgery.

In my opinion, this text is well written and will certainly help the prospective CSA candidate towards success.

Book giveaway

GP and PasTest are giving away five copies of nMRCGP Practice Cases: Clinical Skills Assessment by Dr Raj Thakkar, worth £24.99 each.

For a chance to win a copy, email with your name and address by 26 June 2009.

If you are unlucky in the book draw then you can order a copy direct from the PasTest website

Please enter 1133614 WGFI at the checkout for a 20% discount.

  • Dr Asong is a GP registrar in Nottinghamshire.

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