(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!