The written results are back, for those that made it through, well done, for those that didn’t commiserations. We’ll post some tips soon for the ones who need to re-sit, but for now, onward and upward.
For those heading to the Gold Coast, there’s only 40-odd days to go, so it’s time to get strategic. Here’s some tips we think you’ll find useful.
1) Getting there:
Fying to the GC is easy, there’s multiple flights daily that will get you there. The hospital is not far from the airport, nor are any of the main hotels. For those coming from NZ or Perth, where there are significant time differences you MUST arrive at least a couple of days early to get your circadian rhythm back. A candidate from Melbourne (who passed the written but failed the clinical) sat in Perth a couple of years ago and one of the main contributing factors was arriving the day before the exam. He was awake at 4am, then nodding off during the day of the exam. Don’t let something so simple trip you up at the last hurdle…
There’s plenty of hotels to choose from at the GC, and of all the times in your life this not the one to be tight-fisted with expenses. Pick a 5-star hotel that’s close to the hospital. We can’t stress this enough. You have worked bloody hard to get here, so treat yourself! Fancy hotels are cleaner, quieter, have nicer pools, pillow-menus (in case the pillow on your bed is too hard/soft/lumpy) and usually 24-hour room service, which is a must, as food is a great comforter if you’re anxious the night before the exam. DO NOT stay at the chain hotel a suburb away because it’s $100 a night cheaper. (Trust us, if you get through the exam, one locum shift will cover ALL of your expenses and then some). If you are lucky enough to have a study group, or know other people going up for the exam, stay at the same hotel. It will provide reasurance and cameraderie, and a chance to have a couple of last minute study sessions.
Let’s face it. ED people don’t wear suits. That’s why we do ED. We don’t like suits, they’re unnecessary for our job, so wearing them at the exam is silly, right? The alternative view is that this is a special, formal occasion. Like a wedding, or a big party, so you may as well dress up, because dressing up is fun, right?! We hate suits, but we can honestly say “Don’t fight the suit”. Make it your friend in the next few weeks and you’ll never have to wear it again. Fight the suit and it will fight back by making you hot, bothered and uncomfortable on one of the most stressful days of your life. You should already be doing rounds in your exam outfit, so you feel comfortable in it on the day. Remember it will be warmish weather, so wool suits may be a bit hot. Make sure you get a shirt with a collar that’s a bit bigger, so you don’t get SVC obstruction wile bending down to examine the kiddy in the short case, and a tie pin is our hot tip. It will stop your tie dangling on the patient or getting tangled in your stethoscope. Ladies, pants suit vs skirt/dress… It’s up to you. But no short skirts, and no plunging necklines. Heels may look good but not if you fall over and sprain your ankle between short cases, if you’re not used to wearing them, exam day is NOT the day to dust them off…
3) Get strategic
Again, we can’t emphasise this enough. By now you should have done some research and found out what the GC hospital specialises in, so you can focus your short case practice. You should be doing short case rounds at least once or twice a week, and be doing at least one long case a week, and one SCE session a week. If you are struggling to find cases, you need to think outside the box. Talk to your medical and sub-specialty registrars, they always have cases on the wards. Go to other units outpatients clinics, as there will always be patients with signs there. Go to other hospitals in your town, either in the ED or other units. It doesn’t matter if you don’t work there, use your “selling ice to eskimos” ED skills and talk yourself in. If you went to uni with anyone who’s now a specialist in another (especially non-surgical) field, (even if they only work privately) call them up and ask if they can take your group on a short case round (and private patients are fair game). People are amazingly receptive, and will go out of their way to help you if you tell them your fellowship exam is coming up. Thank them with wine, chocolates, or by taking them out to lunch.
4) Don’t forget the children…
Go to an Obsteric clinic and get a refresher tute on examining a pregnant lady, (yes, you can get a “normal pregnancy” as a short case), and lastly, you MUST, I repeat MUST, have at least one or two sessions doing short cases with a Paediatrician or Paeds ED person in a tertiary hospital paeds INPATIENT unit. There’s no point rocking up to the exam without knowing how to approach a child with a chronic illness in the long case, or not having a few tricks up your sleeve when that baby just won’t stop screaming in your short case. We can give you a list of tips, but watching a pro do it in front of you is far more useful. If you can’t arrange this, let us know and we’ll put some “how to manage the difficult kid in the exam” tips.
Alright, enough talking, time to get back to work. The light is finally at the end of tunnel, so crack on, you’re almost there!!