Monday, October 27, 2008

(Re)mediate, try not to hate

(Apologies to INXS for the title of this post.)

It's been a couple of weeks since I started remediation for the exams. You may recall that I didn't know what remediation would entail.

On Monday two weeks ago, I met with the sub-dean of my clinical school, and was joined by two other students who'd failed. One of them was a big surprise; the other not so much. Amazingly, we're all from the same PBL group! (Our poor PBL tutor is devastated and is re-examining her teaching/tutoring style, despite our reassurances that it's not her fault.)

The first thing we were told at the meeting was, "You need to do some ICAs". (ICAs are rotations on the wards, i.e. what we've been doing all this year.) We all got a bit upset, because the remediation policy on the website says you have to do ICAs if you fail the long case, but it doesn't say that for the written exam. Unfortunately the policy is quite broad though, and is open to interpretation. We were told that the best way to learn is by talking to patients, and while I agree with that to some extent, I knew that I needed to simply knuckle down and STUDY - especially basic sciences. I didn't mind coming into the hospital every day, as long as I could spend my time studying, not presenting bloody long cases.

It was an argument we were never going to win, and we were allocated to supervisors on a couple of wards. I was allocated (along with another student) to the Haematology ward, with my supervisor being a professor who I really like. On meeting with him, he said, "Well it sounds like you need to be studying, not spending time on the ward," and I wanted to hug him. Hee! He introduced us to the Pre-Internship (PRINT) student on his ward - a guy who's at the end of fourth year, i.e. one year ahead of us. This student, who was a bit bored, sat down with us to talk about where we went wrong. We each identified our top 5 problem areas, then drew up a timetable to cover those areas first, then everything else, during the 6.5-week period leading up to the exams.

And then we immediately got started on renal. Next was neuro, then endocrine, then surgery (which we're currently working through). We meet each morning for an hour or so, with each person presenting a topic, and then some group discussion. We've been joined in these sessions by two other students from my clinical school, and two from another clinical school (they live near the hospital and had heard about our study group).

We work through things fairly quickly, and while I don't think I'm learning anything new, I'm getting a better understanding of things. And it's good to talk through stuff instead of just sitting there reading and trying not to fall asleep.

In the afternoon we usually meet for another hour or so to work through questions from past papers. I find these sessions particularly useful, because the PRINT student challenges us to explain our reasons for choosing each answer, and also our reasons for not choosing the other possible answers. It makes us really focus on the way questions are worded, and challenges us to think logically. I've already noticed a big improvement in the way I'm thinking about each question.

We meet with our supervisor at the end of each week, essentially for a bit of a pep talk. So far it's working well. We still have a lot to cover before the exams though.

Currently I'm only studying while I'm at the hospital each day, for several reasons - I don't want to burn out, I have a lot of work on (nights and weekends), and Good Food Month has taken over my social calendar, not to mention two weddings coming up (including one in Perth). I've decided not to stress about trying to fit in too much study now, because I will step it up over the coming weeks. One of the other students is trying to fit too much in, and I can already see signs of burnout.

So the good news is I'm motivated to study, and I'm confident that I can make it through the exams. It's been great meeting with other people who are in the same position, and supporting each other through this nightmare.

Of course, every day I see my other friends at the hospital doing O&G - the placement I should be doing. That sucks, but my friends are great - they've been wonderfully supportive.

As have my readers! Thank you so much to everyone who commented on my previous post - you have no idea how much better I felt after reading all your comments!


Liz said...

wow, that's great. it sounds like you're really getting a lot of support. That PrInt student really sounds awesome! :) Although it sucks that you have to resit, i'm glad you have a team behind you.

That is weird though that you have to repeat ICAs as the people at my clinical school don't have to (unless they failed an ICA) and we are considered to be under the same clinical school branch.. hmmm

*C said...

Hi KT, I don't know if it's weird to be championing a complete stranger - but reading your blog, it doesn't feel like that.

I can't imagine how difficult it must be to be retracing your steps, but you seem to be doing so with grace and strength... and it looks like you've got a good crew around you too.

Good luck over the coming weeks! Lots of people are wishing you well!

chinaski said...

Don't be too bummed about missing out on O&G. Vaginas (and sometimes, the women attached to them) are scary. I wouldn't be sad about missing out on seeing horror between a stranger's legs!

Seriously: keep it up - sounds like you are doing just fine.

KT said...

Liz - we argued and argued about the ICA thing. Our sub-dean said that he was at the meeting with all the clinical schools about it, and it sounds like my clinical school decided to interpret the policy this way. Grrrrrr. In the end it's worked out OK for me, but one of the other students has been allocated to another ward, and he's presenting long cases, attending rounds, etc. I think that's crazy. He needs to stand up for himself; I need to worry about myself. :)

*C - thanks!! It's not weird - I have my fingers crossed after your interview too! (You have a long time to wait though - that sucks.)

Chinaski - oh yeah, I've already heard some horror stories about the vaginas and the women attached to them! I'm not too bummed about waiting a year to face that...

Aussie Med Girl said...

Hi KT,
I've been following your blog (and various other med blogs) for awhile but I'm not sure if I've ever left a comment.

Anyway, just wanted to say all the best for the upcoming exams. I would be completely stressing if I was in your situation, but you seem to be handling it well. Good luck!

Dragonfly said...

The study plan sounds awesome. Particularly the not being burned out bit....sounds a good way to go for sure. Have fun at the weddings as well!
The study/clinical balance can be so hard around exam times....I know I struggle with it. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Hi, I've been stuck in my own world and so apologise for being so late.
But, what your friends say is true - you are an inspiration, and more so because you doubt. Its simple to barge through without question, but to carry on despite setbacks is to be admired.
Anyways, the plan sounds good, keep it up and I shall be thinking of you.
Go pants that resit.

*C said...

The exam can't be too long away now??? Hope you're going well, good luck and all that!