You are on the final stretch. Your pre-vocational years are behind you and you are not far from achieving fellowship. There is just one thing to do…. those final exams.
Whether you are with the Royal Australian College of General Practice (RACGP) or the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) or both, the final set of fellowship exams are broad and can be difficult. Dr Michael McLaughlin (Surgery AST, Ayr) shares his top tips for surviving fellowship exams.
- Know what you’re studying for
Look at your college’s curriculum, and read their assessment handbooks. Each exam is different and knowing the approach and method of the exam will help you plan your study. The exams most registrars seem to struggle with are the Applied Knowledge Test (AKT) with RACGP and Structured Assessment Using Multiple Patient Scenarios (StAMPS) with ACRRM. The ACRRM registrar committee has put together a hand book which is full of some great tips as well as the 8 week STaMPS prep course. RACGP has a series of exam support online modules that may help you get your head around what to expect in the exams.
- Plan ahead
Depending on what your working arrangements are like, these might be your first big exams since med school. Studying whilst working full time, having a family, and trying to keep sane is different to university. Make a plan six months out that allows for all areas of your life and is realistic for you. Be careful not to overcommit yourself. Lay out your priorities and stick to a timeline.
- Don’t go alone
Whether online or in person, have a group of people to practice and study with. Everyone will have their strengths and weaknesses, so being in a group brings more skills to the table. It also means you’re not alone in this. There are lots of places to join a group such as the RACGP Facebook exam study group, ACRRM registrar Facebook page, ACRRM Assessment preparation Facebook group, or through your Regional Training Organisation.
- Study what makes you uncomfortable
If you have an advanced skill in internal medicine, focus on emergency medicine. If you have an advanced skill in obstetrics and gynaecology, make sure you don’t forget to dedicate time to mental health. Being a Rural Generalist means demonstrating knowledge depth and breadth. Many registrars might have one area that they find more difficult than others. Know what yours is, and dedicate time and energy to make it a strength.
- Look after yourself
Fellowship exams are stressful. They put pressure on you professionally, personally and on your relationships. Take time away, reward yourself for small achievements and try not to completely stop doing the things that you enjoy. Also, don’t forget to thank your tribe for all their support and once passed… celebrate!