The following article was written by Dr Natasha Thandrayen MBBS (Lond), B.Sc (Hons) GPST1, who took the GPST entry exams in 2008, and gained her first choice of hospital and rotation at the London Deanery.


Tips on General Practice Specialty Training (GPST) Entry 2009

Calendar:

Stage 1: Applications submitted between 5th-18th January 2009
Stage 2 exam: 21st February 2009
Stage 3 exam: 23rd March 3rd April 2009
Offer of training programme: by 24th April 2009
Acceptance of training programme by 1st May 2009
Clearing: From 11th May 2009



Stage 1: On-line application.

To include basic details e.g. GMC registration, driving licence number, evidence of foundation competence. The only way to stand out here is if you have an extra qualification, e.g. DFSRH, however Stage 1 is just to register, and make sure you are eligible to apply.


Stage 2: Clinical Problem Solving paper lasting 95 mins.

Format can be Single Best Answers (SBA), Extended Matching Questions (EMQ), and Multiple choice Questions (MCQs).

MCQs, SBA and EMQs: Questions at a theory level you will have encountered in medical school exams. These clinical scenarios will try to simulate those which an FY2 doctor could encounter.

Do not underestimate the difficulty of this exam!! It does require ample preparation to pass, simply because there is such a broad range of topics. It tests your breadth of knowledge across all the specialties.

Ok so how should you revise? It seems quite daunting at first, given the vast range of specialties. Well everyone has different ways of revising, and after medical school most people have mastered the art of exams. It is impossible to go through each specialty in the depth that you would have at medical school. If you made good notes at the time of your exams then by all means go through them. I did lots of questions, and brushed up on areas I was rusty in, or topics that I found to be common themes in practice questions.

The only thing that will determine whether you are successful in progressing to Stage 3 and where your job will be is your score at the written exams. You will be asked to rank your preference of hospital and rotation, both of which are allocated based on overall score in the exams.

Commonly in the format of a clinical scenario, you can be tested on diagnosis, investigations, management.

Make sure you do not run out of time at the exams!! I know a few people who ran out of time this year at the Stage 2 exam and didnt get through to Stage 3, as they didnt finish the paper. The best way to avoid this is to do lots of timed papers. There is no negative marking, so attempt all the questions.


Professional Dilemmas: Paper lasting 115 minutes.

These are tricky, as there is usually an obvious best and worst answer, but the in between ones are quite similar. Doing numerous examples of these will familiarise you to the examiners way of thinking.

Do as many questions as you can get your hands on. The following sources are very useful:
Dont forget medical finals MCQ/ EMQ books especially those which cover the specialties.



Stage 3

I cannot emphasise enough the importance of revising in small groups. Some of those who didnt get through at Stage 3 revised on their own. Although the books give a good insight into what kind of scenarios are encountered, it simply cannot beat revising in small groups. The advantages of this are that you can see how other candidates interact, whilst building your confidence and receiving constructive criticism. Revise with people that you trust to give you honest feedback. The pitfall with solely going to a Stage 3 revision course is that no-one really knows each other, and are quite polite in the feedback, whereas you need to know where you are going wrong, and how to improve.

Take turns being the Doctor, Patient, Practice Nurse etc. With group work try and get someone to be the observer to score you on an individual level. At the London Deanery exams this year, we each had a separate observer scoring us during the group work. This person does not have to be a medic!!

DO book yourself onto a Stage 3 course. Some of my friends went to the weekend courses and found them very useful, as you will do group practice with people you dont know, so it gives some insight into what the real exam will be like. I went to the Pastest evening course, and found this to be very informative with useful tips, although there was no group practice.

Finally good luck!!

As always, prepare early and you will do well.



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