Friday, January 22, 2016
Last Mile on Your Road to Becoming a Diplomate in Internal Medicine
Now for the last serving of tips on becoming a Diplomate in Internal Medicine.
3. Understand the distribution of the exam questions. Whether we like it or not, we can't deny the presence of the Big Four. Whether we love to study the Big Four, we have no choice but to do so. I am referring to the four major specialties, namely, Cardiology, Pulmonology, Infectious Diseases, and Gastroenterology. Make sure you allot ample time to these specialties because they comprise a big chunk of the coverage of topics in the exam. I think that goes without mentioning that it's the Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine that is our "bible" for the diplomate exam. You should digest the book over and over again, from its front cover to its back cover.
4. Go back and stick to the strategies that have worked for you in the past. Review your notes. I presume you have accumulated a substantial amount of notes during your residency. Answering questions is also a very good strategy for the PSBIM. The more you answer questions, specially the multiple choice type of questions, the more you get used to it, and it would be such a breeze for you once you sit in for the real thing on the exam day itself. You get used to the exam type, you have your own way around the questions. It is a different type of mental exercise, answering questions or multiple choice questions, as compared to plain reading of the textbook. When you answer questions, it is another way of knowing if you really got the gist of the material. Although still, I have to say this - just keep on reading your book. When you feel like you can't go on, rest for a few minutes if you may, but after that keep on reading. No matter how little you might read, it could mean a big thing, the tipping point towards making, or (I hope not) breaking the exam. So just read on. It will do a lot of good for you than bad.
5. Lastly, I know you don't need to be reminded of these basic stuff but I think they might be worth mentioning. Book in advance for your hotel stay on the day of the exam. I booked for my hotel two months before the exam and I laud myself for booking in advance because the hotel got fully booked really fast. I checked in at the hotel five days before the exam and did my final phase of intensive studying there, inside my hotel room, only ordering food from their restaurant. Sometimes, I would order from nearby fast food chains.
Survey the exam venue. We did that the day before the exam to familiarize ourselves with the place. On the day of the exam itself, go to the exam venue early, at least an hour before the exam would be preferable.
Be determined to get a good night's sleep before the exam. Sleep early if you can. I know that could possibly be hard to achieve considering all the anxiety you have with regards to the exam, but be determined to sleep well and comfortably the night before the exam.
Have a good and sumptuous early breakfast prior to the exam. Buy yourself some snacks the day before the exam, something that would make you happy while you munch on it, no matter how the exam goes. That would give you more good vibes during the exam.
Lastly and most importantly, pray. Our efforts would be nothing without the guidance of God, the Ultimate Physician.
As this series comes to a close, I wish you well for your coming diplomate exam, dear doctor. Taking the exam is the only way to go. I was once where you are now and there are a lot more who walked this path, and made it. Without a doubt, you will make it too, with persistence, faith, diligence, focus, and wisdom.
In advance, I extend my congratulations to you.
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