I have been working with doctors from a number of specialties for several years, as a study coach. There are many specialty trainees who are extremely capable in their clinical practice but who struggle with the challenging written/computerised exams that they encounter; this is a particular issue with multiple-choice questions with single best answer options. These examinations are tightly timed, last for many hours and require a really well considered and efficient approach.
As a Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLD) specialist, I’m particularly aware that research* has found that what benefits people with a SpLD has the potential to benefit everyone, because we can help all people to engage with learning.
I can provide one to one support or a one day course for a group of junior doctors who want to develop their learning skills in preparation for an examination. The courses can be arranged for a group from one royal college specialty, or for a mixed group as the techniques can be applied to most disciplines.
Whilst some doctors largely rely on practice question banks in order to pass their exam, I have experienced many doctors who need to work harder at understanding the concepts behind the questions in order to answer correctly.
The volume of material that needs to be learned can often feel overwhelming. I help junior doctors and medical students to tackle their syllabus constructively. I use an approach where I encourage doctors to take control, by targeting their weaker areas, building up strengths and generating self-belief.
Tackling the questions in a way that enables people to feel that they are able to succeed is something that I work on with the doctor.
I always start with where the person is and what they want to achieve. Together, be it 1:1 or in a group, we formulate each trainee’s strategies for success.
Here are some feedback comments:
“Helped me to read the question: the difference between common, most likely, most appropriate”
“Thank you for being so patient”
“A very good strategy for learning”
“Covered an interactive way to make learning more enjoyable and palatable.”
*MacKay, N. (2006) Removing Dyslexia as a Barrier to Achievement: Second Edition. SEN Marketing: Wakefield. p.8.