Tuesday, October 09, 2012
Posted by Sandra's Latest... at 8:35 PM
Monday, October 08, 2012
Posted by Sandra's Latest... at 8:30 PM
Sunday, October 07, 2012
And so I had a lovely weekend to get settled into normal life! What’s normal? I was trying to think of what I usually did with my time off! I guess I was often out with friends. Ah, friends. I can start socializing again! The weather on Saturday was nice and so I did meet up with some friends for lunch, then attended an Enable the Children Board Meeting and then met up with another friend for dinner. Good times. Today I stayed at home all day and cleaned my room – lots of sorting, re-organizing and cleaning, which was much needed after being away for 6 weeks! Unfortunately some shoes and clothes are moldy due to the humidity and heat but for the most part, everything was fine. This evening we had international church which gave me the opportunity to catch up with more friends.
Tomorrow, it’s back to the hospital and I’ll be going with mixed emotions. It’s a place with so much potential but it is so challenging to work there. I am prepared to go with joy, patience and compassion and hopefully that will see me through tomorrow and the rest of the week. I have to say, I will be spending a lot of time planning the x-ray department startup as well as laboratory improvements and preparing for next weeks’ Emergency Training with the nursing staff. Plenty to keep me busy!
Posted by Sandra's Latest... at 10:37 PM
Saturday, October 06, 2012
I stopped studying at 7:30 pm the night before the exam and tried to focus on other things. I was the first one at the exam center on Friday morning, with a 7:40 am arrival since my colleagues dropped me off on their way to the hospital. The first person to show up after me came at 8:15! The official start time was 8:00 am. At 8:30 we were allowed to enter the exam room but there was still one person missing – he was stuck in traffic. I think we should have just started – seeing as it was clearly mentioned that we need to be on time. The final hour of waiting was agonizing. At least the invigilators decided to start handing out the answer sheets and exam instructions, which was quite entertaining. You see, there was a suitcase on one of the tables which was opened somewhat dramatically. The invigilator made sure to show us the big sealed DHL style envelopes containing the exam papers per specialty. Then there was a moment of hesitation when one of the invigilators said that a photo should be taken to prove that all of the envelopes were sealed, however, it was quickly decided that this wasn’t necessary. Next there was some discussion around ‘the clock’. There was a clock in the room but it did not have any markings. Then, to my surprise, one of the invigilators pulled another clock (with markings) out of the suitcase! After switching batteries from one clock to another, the exam papers were handed out and at the same time the final candidate arrived.
At 9:00 am the exam started. The first 15 questions were easy. I was surprised. I recognized topics and could answer all of the sub-questions. Then it became more difficult, with questions concerning topics I hadn’t even read up on. Normally, I’d take an educated guess and answer every question, however, this exam has NEGATIVE marking and so guessing is not a smart move. Basically your score is the number right minus the number wrong. One needs to find a balance in answering the right number of questions to get a passing mark. To make a long story short, I am now more concerned that I might not have answered enough questions to get a high enough mark because I was being overly cautious. I guess I will know in a week! The unfair thing is that for pediatrics 1 point is subtracted for every wrong answer, whereas for the other specialties only 1/5th is subtracted. At 10:00 am there was another moment of panic when one of the invigilators said that pediatrics only had another 30 minutes. I was only on question 40 out of 100 (with 5 sub questions each). We were quick to speak up and say that the exam paper clearly states that we have 2 1/2 hours! Phew. So, at 11:30 we handed in our exam papers and left the room. We had to wait in the waiting room for another 30 minutes while the other specialties (who had 3 hours) finished their exam.
It was tough, but it’s over. Pass or fail, it’s done and I have time to do what I want! At least for a little while. Of course, I would love to have passed in one go – I’ve never failed a medical exam and would like not to have to do all this studying again. However, if I do need to re-sit, it’s not the end of the world. I’d have 6 months (till April) and know exactly what topics I need to focus on (I think). Plus, the hospital won’t be accredited till March 2013 (that’s our goal!) and so I can’t start residency until that time anyway. If I pass, I probably still won't start clinicals till 2013. Right now, there's an x-ray department to set up!
Posted by Sandra's Latest... at 10:36 PM
Thursday, October 04, 2012
I have no idea how this will go. I feel well prepared, however, I also know they can test anything under the sun and there is the dreaded NEGATIVE marking and the odd ambiguous question here and there. This is one of those exams that I feel like I could study another 6 months for and probably would still not know nearly enough! Oh the world of medicine is so big. I keep having to remind myself that I am doing this with the hopes that it'll ultimately, eventually, in the long-run, improve paediatric health in Sierra Leone.
This sure has been an interesting journey so far and it is only the beginning. I'm still not sure what I am getting myself into. I'll battle the first hurdle tomorrow and then take it from there. Thanks for prayers, encouragement and support! Fingers crossed.
Posted by Sandra's Latest... at 8:45 PM
Tuesday, October 02, 2012
Three days to go. Eat. Study. Relax. Study. Take a deep breath. Study. Eat. Study. Chocolate. Study. Sleep. And try not to dream about studying. I can do this. Almost there. I picked up my exam number today, so in theory, I am ready to sit the exam. Of course, I feel like I don't know nearly enough but I'll give it a go. I'm still trying to cram in facts that I think will highly likely appear on this exam (who knows really!) and wrap my head around a few difficult concepts that are sure to be tested. Better get back to studying.
Posted by Sandra's Latest... at 5:49 PM