Healthcare Science Week | What to expect from practical assessments

Published 15/03/2022

As we return to live events after a two year hiatus, Mr Liam Thompson, Accreditation Coordinator for the British Society of Echocardiography, details the practical assessment experience and what candidates should expect on the day.

Holding the majority of our practical assessments virtually over the last two years has been a difficult but ultimately fulfilling journey - being able to provide this opportunity for our members has opened doors for candidates from across the country and even further afield to achieve personal accreditation. However, that doesn’t mean that we’re not very excited to come back to in person practical assessments, and so I’m delighted to have this opportunity to give future candidates an insight into what to expect.

Before the assessment

Once you’ve registered for a practical assessment and your place has been confirmed, you’ll receive a wealth of information from our Accreditation Manager, Ms Jo Vashishta. She’s been with the Society for a number of years and there really is no one who knows the ins and outs of the practical assessments better than her. She’ll give you information on timings, what you need to bring with you and the deadlines you need to meet for pre-submission of your logbook and video cases.

Three top things to remember:

  • Photographic ID - this can be a driving license or your hospital badge, as long as it shows your full name and a clear picture
  • A pen
  • A device to play your viva cases

Arriving on the day

Jo will give you clear instructions on accessing the hospital department where the assessment will take place, but we’ll also make sure there’s plenty of signs to help you get to the right place. You can also play ‘Spot the BSE team’ - just look out for people in that particular shade of green and you’re likely to be going in the right direction!

You’ll be greeted at our assessment reception by our friendly team, where we’ll take your temperature and ask you to wear a mask for enhanced safety. They’ll ask you to sign in and check your ID. Don’t worry if you’re a little early, just let us know that you’ve arrived - if we’re running ahead, we may be able to get you through to your assessment a bit sooner.

You’ll then be asked to wait in the waiting area until you are called by an assessor, who will use your BSE membership ID - so make sure that you’ve made a note of it!

Taking your assessment

Station 1 consists of a review of your logbook. Thanks to our new and improved logbook portal, our assessors now review your logbook reports before the day of the assessment so that they can give you your feedback easily on the day. Because of this, Station 1 is usually actually at the end, so feedback can be given after you have completed Stations 2 and 3.

Station 2 will consist of a practical assessment. You’ll be asked to acquire a number of views on a normal volunteer or a simulator. To ensure an adequate assessment of your imaging ability, you’ll be asked to obtain a variety of 2D images, Colour Doppler, continuous/pulse wave Doppler and M-mode images. All images which form part of this assessment are taken from the minimum BSE transthoracic echo dataset. The assessor will be present in the room and may help adjust the echo machine settings as directed by you if the machine is unfamiliar. Echo platform familiarity is not expected or tested. This will be done in a specified timescale. Upon reaching a trigger score of 83, you’ll proceed to Station 3.

Station 3 is assessment of your five video cases (VIVA PowerPoint presentations). You can find much more detailed information about the requirements for your cases in your accreditation pack, but you must bring five full studies with paper copies of your reports with you to the assessment. The cases must be anonymized.

It’s assumed you will submit your best cases, so we will expect the studies to be complete and of a high standard. You must ensure at least one complete cardiac cycle per image is provided as cropped loops cannot be assessed.

You’ll play your viva cases on your own device as mentioned earlier, so make sure you have taken plenty of time to check and double-check your PowerPoint before the day of your assessment.

TOE candidates

Stations 2 and 3 are the other way around for TOE candidates, who will complete their viva cases before being assessed on their scanning.

TOE candidates will always acquire their views on a simulator. All images which form part of this assessment are taken from the minimum BSE transoesophageal echo dataset. This will be done in a specified timescale. Upon reaching a trigger score of 80, you'll have passed this station.

Level 1 candidates

Instead of presenting viva cases, Level 1 candidates will be asked to accurately read and report two echocardiograms to pass station 3.

After the assessment

You may be asked to wait between stations or following your assessment - we usually have around 60 candidates per assessment so the day can get a little busy! Once you’ve been through all three stations, you’ll wait to be called up to the results desk, where it’s likely that you’ll meet me and I’ll talk you through the next steps.

If you’ve been successful in your practical assessment, you’ll get copies of your feedback along with your certificate of accreditation and your accreditation badge - you’re now a fully accredited member.

If you haven’t been successful on this occasion, we’ll advise you on the terms of your resubmission and your next steps towards completing your accreditation. We understand that this can be difficult news for members, so both our office and assessors teams are always on hand for anything you need or want to discuss.

We wish you the best of luck for your practical assessment and want you to know that we are all here to support you with any queries you may have about your accreditation journey leading up to your assessment. If you are a candidate currently working toward completing your logbook, we look forward to meeting you soon. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to email us at [email protected] or call us using our contact us page.

Find out more about practical assessments