25 Nov 2020

revising for postgraduate exams resulted in this 'random nuggets of knowledge' notebook

During the last twelve months, I have taken two surgical exams. Postgraduate exams are a whole new kettle of fish! At medical school, we needed to know a little about everything so you'd think revising for exams that were for a subset of that 'everything' would be easier? Nope. Turns out there is still a mountain to learn for surgery. The little about everything still applies, but for everything to do with surgery and every surgical specialty out there.... And it's actually a 'little bit more' rather than just a 'little'.

In September, the first exam I took was a written one and it was a multiple choice question exam. Easy enough - question banks were how I approached my revision and they served me well. I passed and then decided to sit the next exam in February which was a practical one. It is 'OSCE'-based (obstructive structured clinical examinations) where there were anatomy stations, practical skills ones, communication ones and anything you can imagine that is related to every surgical specialty out there. This was more difficult to revise for!

During my shifts at work (I was doing my clinical shifts in the Emergency Department at the time), I approached every potential surgical patient as if it was part of this exam. I did pretty well in the examination stations so that must have worked!

However, for the more knowledge-based stations, I used another question bank. This and revision for the first exam resulted in the most random notebook full of nuggets of knowledge from pretty much every surgical specialty.

I have to admit, this wasn't my most organised way to revise for an exam but it seemed to work ok. Part of it was that I didn't expect to pass the second exam as it was meant to be a practice one, albeit an expensive one!

My next exam won't be for another five years or so but for that one, I'll make sure I'm much more prepared and organised!

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