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MRCPsych: Passing the CASC Exam   Back Bookmark and Share

Editor: Justin Sauer
Publisher: Hodder Education
ISBN 978-0-340-98194-8

The membership examination of the Royal College of Psychiatrists (MRCPsych) has changed substantially in recent years.  One of the most significant innovations has been the introduction of the Clinical Assessment of Skills and Competencies (CASC) which aims to provide a structured assessment of specific skills and competencies relevant to psychiatric practice. This book aims to help post-graduate psychiatry trainees prepare for CASC by broadening their knowledge base and developing their examination skills for the CASC.

In this context, this book is well-presented, easy to use, and admirably focused on its task.  Each chapter includes examples of examination “stations” along with guidance on how to approach the question, and information that should form the focus of the answer; i.e. there is information about both examination technique and answers to specific questions.  This integrated format makes this volume extremely useful for trainees in the period immediately prior to the CASC.

The thematic breadth of the book is also impressive: there are chapters devoted to a broad range of areas, including old age psychiatry, neuropsychiatry, child and adolescent psychiatry, learning disability psychiatry, liaison psychiatry, forensic psychiatry and eating disorders.  Amongst the most useful chapters are those dealing with addictions, physical examination, investigations and procedures.  In addition, there is general guidance on examination technique for the CASC, including tips for optimising performance on the day.

This is a book that does exactly what it says on the tin, and does it very well: it helps trainees prepare for the CASC.  It is, then, a study aid rather a text-book, an examination preparation tool rather than a stand-alone volume of psychiatric thought.  For those who have already passed the MRCPsych, books such as this are somewhat dispiriting, as (of necessity) psychiatry undergoes a Procrustean transformation into a blizzard of lists and bullet-points, which cannot possibly convey the myriad, unresolved, untidy issues that make real-life psychiatry so challenging, interesting and filled with opportunity.

BD Kelly
Department of Adult Psychiatry, UCD, Mater Misericordiae University Hospital, 62/63 Eccles Street, Dublin 7 Email: [email protected]

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