Clinical Exam Survival Kit
1. MRCPCH Clinical: Short Cases, History Taking and Communication Skills – if you buy any one book for your prep make sure it’s this one. The rest you can borrow from the library or a friend. A notable mention should go to Examination Paediatrics; which is geared towards the Australasian clinicals, far more information than you will ever need but a good reference book – borrow, don’t buy.
2. An Exam practice buddy – not necessarily someone who is also sitting the exam but could be someone who has passed it already. Pick someone supportive, encouraging, will give honest (&constructive) feedback and has the time to help you.
3. A study group – There will be more trainees within your deanery sitting the exam, hunt them out and practise together when you can. You’ll often pick up tips just from observing them.
Get ready to nail it.....
4. Consultant/Senior Trainee Teaching Sessions – If your deanery doesn’t already arrange regular sessions in the weeks leading up to the exam, organise some yourself: far more valuable than attending very expensive exam courses.
5. YouTube – there are so many videos out there, most are not even for paediatric trainees sitting exams, but very useful. All sorts of children with various conditions (these are mainly parents trying to get greater awareness of their illness), talks on various clinical topics and even posts by patients, such as one by a young women showing us how she catheterises via her mitrofanoff.
6. A full length mirror – practice on your own, out loud. Focus on your voice, your speech (including your grammar), eye contact, hand gestures and posture.
7. A confidence boosting outfit – what you wear on the day needs to be comfortable, practical and professional, but it should also make you feel great….no, not great…amazing. Don’t underestimate the power of a good outfit. Use the above mentioned mirror to help you pick yours.
8. Good luck charms, routines, rituals – most high profile and successful sports people swear by these. Unlikely to make a difference to the cases/examiners you get but if you already have something you put your faith into, stick to it – it will help with the nerves.
9. A day/weekend off – once you’re in that clinical exam revision cocoon, it will at times feel a bit suffocating and you will start to envy those trainees who have the time to go to the shops, go out in the evening, on holiday…while you are in the work/revision cycle of life. Before you burn out or peak too soon take a day off from all exam related activities and go do something fun that will completely take your mind off the feeling of impending doom.
10. A glass of wine the evening before – or whatever your vice! Too late to cram anything else in now, just sit back enjoy (don’t over do it, a hangover probably won’t help on the day) and get a decent nights sleep.
Some useful resources to get you clinical exam ready (let us know if you have any more to add):