The inaugural Boot Camp was held in 2016, followed by a bumper weekend in 2017…mark your diaries for  3+4 February in 2018 – all ASA Trainee Members group (formerly GASACT) candidates welcome!

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The Final Examination preparation Boot Camp was reprised in Canberra during February after its successful debut in 2016.

This is one of the range of events the ASA supports which are aimed at meeting the needs of trainees. The weekend was again open to all exam candidates.


Current Final Examiners prepared presentations and participated in panel discussions. They were available throughout the weekend to answer questions to the group and to address individual concerns.

The faculty of Drs Luke Bromilow, Stephen Davies, Nicola Meares, Carmel McInerney, Prani Shrivastava and Linda Weber gave generously of their time, presentations and attention to individual questions.


The weekend opened with voxpops from previous exam candidates followed by a walk through each exam section. Audience participation throughout was lively—candidates made good use of exam panel members to clarify misconceptions and do some mythbusting.


Techniques for improving responses to both written and viva questions were covered. Rallying from “viva brain” was considered, along with responses that might be better avoided.

A video was presented on blending learning and performance modes as a means to better prepare for the exam.


With March around the corner, there was an emphasis during the weekend on the upcoming medical vivas. Strategies for organising and improving performance for this section were offered. The medical viva requires candidates to focus their history and examination, rank information and synthesise their findings. Ensuring that the interpretation of relevant investigations adds value to the viva performance was emphasised for the medical and anaesthesia vivas.


Adding value to responses and use of constructs was demonstrated. Examples and a range of openers and scripts were reviewed.
Participants were actively encouraged to create their own customised scripts to deal with crises, catastrophes and other surprises. Their utility to buy time, send reassuring signals to examiners and to enhance replies to questions was a feature of several segments.


The John James Foundation of Canberra is a supporter of medical educational activities and kindly provided their excellent theatrette as the Boot Camp venue.

Jennifer Ellis of the ASA provided administrative support and outstanding organisational help to make the weekend a smooth running success.

Thank you to all delegates and presenters for their enthusiastic participation throughout Boot Camp. Feedback survey responses have been very gratifying—also full of suggestions for improvements. The challenge for Boot Camp 2018!

Best wishes to all candidates for success in their exams. Vida Viliunas
Boot Camp Convenor

Canberra Final Exam Boot Camp –

February 2016

A final exam preparation boot camp weekend was held in Canberra in February.

The weekend was supported by the ASA for logistics and publicity and open to all candidates sitting for the exam – Australian Anaesthetic trainees, International Medical Graduate Specialists and any other candidates sitting the Final Fellowship exam.

Outstanding exam performances often look quite ordinary. This program aimed to demonstrate very good viva performances for candidates preparing for their final anaesthesia exams. Presentation skills for investigations interpretation were also covered. We all agreed that content trumps performance tricks, but that in combination, they are unbeatable!

PRESENTERS and other supporters

Four real-life, (AND in-the-flesh), current final examiners were kind enough to donate their time for the entire weekend for this enterprise: Drs Nicola Meares, Stephen Davies, Prani Shrivastava (who came all the way from WA) and Linda Weber. Dr Carmel McInerney lent her expertise as a teacher, consultant and character actor to the cause.

The John James Foundation is a leading Canberra medical charity that kindly donated their theaterette and breakout rooms on the campus of the John James hospital in Deakin, Canberra.

OTSAN president ( Dr Sanjay Sharma represented his organization in support of the international medical graduate specialists attending.


The final examiners and consultants role-played as examiners and candidates presenting “very good” performances for both Medical and Anaesthesia vivas.  A range of techniques was showcased: including

  • the “expected” CVS/ respiratory viva…and the warning to ALWAYS expect the unexpected
  • the “I have never done/ seen such a case” and what to do then viva
  • how to recover from a brain-stall.
  • Anaesthesia vivas as a spectator sport and as practice vivas with feedback.

The aim was to pull together the theory and practice of what is required of candidates in the real-time dynamic situation of a viva. Practical solutions for what is probably the most stressful section of the exam were presented; how to recover from and deal with situations when candidates feel uncomfortable or uncertain in a viva were covered.

These sessions were followed by analysis, discussion and myth-busting.

The aim was for candidates to take home some “performance jewels”.


Investigations occur and recur in all sections of the exam and play an important role in our profession. Having a systematic and confident approach ensures that candidates do not miss important findings and are able to showcase their knowledge.

A targeted, systematic approach to the “black spots” of exam investigation was presented. There were a number of quizzes throughout the two days that gave candidates a chance to review the material covered.


The weekend offered candidates the results of the world’s best research in this field!

Thank you to all who supported the weekend to make it a success.

Best wishes to all candidates for the upcoming examinations.

Dr Vida Viliunas

ASA Education Officer

(mildly exhausted) Boot Camp Convenor