Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Final Countdown

We're nearly there! Anyone done any A-Z chasing (see previous posting re: flipping through the holy book of Anaesthesia from topic to topic? - Guilty as charged!! My rollercoaster week continues - some days I feel I am going to nail this exam. I'm going to walk in and from the start be confident, articulate, and present my text-book knowledge in a concise, yet structured manner. Other times, I look blankly at my viverer, my mouth dry, and my brain even drier - a feeling of hopelessness overwhelming. I have discovered a new phrase: "The £680 answer - an answer so disorganised or dangerous that it will precipitate a return to the College when the leaves are brown!!

I've been pretty lucky and had a lot of viva practice. I've also had a lot of excellent advice from both Consultants and Registrars alike:

There is a famous quote:

"The harder I work, the luckier I get" by Samuel Goldwyn (or Gary Player!).

You often hear of people coming out of an exam, complaining about being asked 'xyz'. There are also people who when dissecting the exam, reveal some extraordinary questions asked, but having answered them without breaking a sweat: "Amazing, I read it just two days ago!"

The moral of this story (and one of the best pieces of advice given to me this week) is: keep reading and reading right to the bitter end. A random topic may come up for you!

Another phrase which keeps repeating itself is: "You already have the knowledge to pass this section" How many people have said that to you? Really irritating isn't it when you have forgotten the Alveolar Gas Equation for the fifth time!? A large proportion of your answer is structure. The temptation when answering a question that you know something about, is to spew forth everything at once. Another piece of excellent advice I was given, is to imagine that the structure of your answer is analogous to a tree. Do not aim for the fruit immediately - start with the trunk (or definition) and a few main branches thereafter (classify). The examiner will guide you towards which piece of fruit to pick and digest upon!!

E.g. Propofol is an anaesthetic agent which is used for induction of anaesthesia, causing a drop in blood pressure and decreased pharyngeal reflexes.......etc.


Propofol is an intravenous agent used for induction and maintenance of anaesthesia, sedation in ICU, and for the control of status epilepticus. It's chemical name is........

Exaggerated example I know, but it illustrates the point.

This week is all about keeping the mental attitude and trying to stay sane - to pass this exam, you do not need to know every little detail. You need to be strong and structured on the basics, and you need to be clinically safe: when asked during a clinical scenario, say what YOU would do because it's probably what you do most days without thinking.

1 comment:

AF said...

Sound advice...
In the middle of A-Z chasing myself.
I like the quote about getting luckier...I'm trying VERY hard to get lucky!
The practice thing has really come home to roost as we have only just started getting the practice at my place. It's very...motivational, ahem.
(PS: Past vivas are up now).