Saturday, December 18, 2010

My PACES Experience (1)

Finally I received my formal result. A pleasant surprise indeed. I scored 93/100. The passing mark this time is 75%, and the passing rate for this diet is 38%, for UK/Non-UK candidates. I'm glad that the hardwork did pay off and in my next few posts or so, I'll be sharing some of my thoughts about this exam (a.k.a my worst nightmare of the year, really!).

If you ask me what is important in the preparation, broadly speaking, I think there are 3 components - REMEMBER, these are EQUALLY important:

1. Knowledge

You might have heard that PACES is about practising. But believe me, if you do not have the core knowledge, you'll have hard time interpretating signs and correlate them together and bear in mind that this exam you are under direct observation and face-to-face oral Q&A, without adequate (or more than adequate) preparation and reading, "thought-block" and "verbal constipation" is extremely common.

As compared to the written tests like your Part 1 & 2A, I think PACES is much more tougher in terms of the spectrum of the questions that you may be asked, it can range from the most basic (eg physiology), or common diseases but in details (eg prevalance and epidemio), or rare stuff (eg a rare sign), to the updated management (most current practice guidelines, trials and future developement).

Hence, for reading material, I'd suggest the "gold standard" - "An Aid to the MRCP PACES" Vol 1&2 by Ryder and the "250 Cases in Clinical Medicine" by Baliga. But bear in mind that these books do not cover the "Station 5" - a new format in PACES.

Beside the books, do keep yourself updated with the latest guidelines (eg NICE, SIGN guidelines) and important medical trials (you need to confidently name them out - to show that you're practising evidence-based medicine).

2. Showmanship

Now we come to the practising part. It's a blessing if you can find a mentor (usually they'll be too busy to guide), or at least you can form your own study group. No doubt for this exam an extensive amount of time need to be spent on practising, for the clinical method, examination routines, history taking and communication skills. I think the tip is you really have to merge it into your daily practice, meaning seeing all your patients like your exam cases, then you'll improve fast.

Among all, I'd say bedside manner is of the utmost importance, and this is really something will make you stand out from other candidates. And make sure that you perform it as something natural, not like showing it just for the exam's sake. Greet the patient warmly, examine them with respect and dignity, and thank them sincerely!

3. Luck

Now we come to the most difficult part. Believe me that this is a highly unpredictable exam, therefore luck does play a role here. The set of examiners that you get, the patients/ surrogates, or even the candidates in your carousel - all are crucial factors in deciding whether or not you will pass. You may be very confident about your knowledge and skill, but luck MAY as well go wrong, and failed you totally. So, for your luck to go smoothly, my sincere advice is - do pray a lot! ;)

Next entry: Case Presentation in PACES


Pingu said...

Congrates Dr Darren !
nearly perfectly scored !
Well Done...
Must be a great gift for Xmas!
=) Merry Xmas and Happy 2011!

vagus said...

congrats! well done!

Anonymous said...

congrate dr...

Darren Lee said...

Pingu & Vagus: Thank you!! Will share more of my experience later;)

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