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Dr Janice Kiem was recently awarded the Maureen Duke and Marian Sullivan Memorial Award for the Queensland Registrar with the highest Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) score for semester one of 2017.
Dr Kiem completed general practice training through James Cook University’s Generalist Medical Training program. Read her story.
Below, Dr Kiem shares her top tips for preparing for exams.
“There is a huge amount of material that needs to be covered, and cannot be rushed in a short period of time. For the written exams, a good six months’ preparation is needed. For the OSCEs, at least three months,” says Dr Kiem.
HAVE A PLAN AND BE SYSTEMATIC
“Break the topics down into disciplines and work through them systematically. Identify your weaknesses and make these a focus. It’s easy to study topics you like or are good at, but for exam preparation, these are likely the areas you need to spend the least time on. Be guided by the BEACH data.
The OSCEs are challenging to prepare for, and the biggest piece of advice I can give is to have a system – some form of aide-memoire that will prompt you for history, examination, systems review, investigations, follow-up etc. I was shown a ‘system’ by a previous registrar which I then adapted for my own use and used with every single case I practiced. And you need to practice – a lot.”
CHOOSE YOUR RESOURCES
“There are a huge amount of resources available and most are good quality, but it can be a little overwhelming. I focused on CHECKs, AFP’s, How To Treat, Red/White/Silver books and of course, previous RACGP exam papers. www.gplearning.racgp.org.au is a great resource, and working your way through the educational activities is a great way to learn the ‘style’ of the RACGP, and to identify your areas that require improvement.
The RACGP exam reports are also great for identifying ‘pitfalls’ of previous candidates – and are good to review if you are struggling with exam technique.
Buy the book of OSCE cases by Susan Wearne for RACGP exams and work through them with colleagues
PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE
“Your daily work as a GP is a goldmine of learning opportunities – look things up at the time they come to your attention, see patients, apply guidelines as you learn them, review the immunisation schedule with every child you immunise, and keep up to date on current news and changes.
Talk to your colleagues and ask lots of questions! Be familiar with the more esoteric aspects as well, not just the medicine – medicare billings, incentive and access programs, referral pathways, patient education programs.”
ASK FOR HELP
“Ask the GPs at your practice if they wouldn’t mind blocking off an hour once a week to run through cases with you – and do this with a different clinician most days.
Skype your friends and do practice cases – and every time role play as you would in the actual exam. I had three set sessions a week with different people and then opportunistically picked up other sessions through the week. Apply the system every single time until it becomes second nature. At first it seems awkward and uncomfortable and a bit unnatural, but it’s important to become slick and fast with taking a history, doing a systems review, and developing differentials.
Practice with your patients as well! The other element I think every OSCE candidate should do is an RACGP practice OSCE. This was critical to my exam preparation. Genevieve Yates has some great practical tips on her blog.”