10 Tips For Clearing PLAB 2
Hi, my name is Dr Janvi Lalchandani, an IMG who recently cleared my PLAB 2 exams. Since I cleared the exam recently, I thought this was the perfect chance to share some of the things I've learnt about PLAB 2 with future aspirants.
For most IMGs, PLAB 2 is a new exam pattern. OSCE exams are more focused on your bedside manners/communication skills/counselling skills. PLAB 2 tests show how you would handle a real-life situation and if you are a SAFE doctor.
There are 2 approaches to preparation depending on your personal study design. But for both of them, what's most important is having a study buddy (or multiple). I personally kept switching study partners, which allowed me to pick up skills from different people.
1) Some people would rather read, familiarise themselves with the possible scenarios and then practise some stations (I fall into this category).
2) Others prefer practising even if they haven't necessarily read everything and pick up points and feedback along the way.
Both are totally acceptable! What's more important is to remember what the GMC is looking for. Your knowledge has already been tested in PLAB 1. They know you are competent but are you the right fit for this country? They want someone who is not only competent but also honest, safe and reliable.
1) Your mindset walking into the exam hall really matters. If you are nervous/jittery/anxious, IT WILL SHOW. Be calm and composed. Allow the patient to trust and believe in you. How else will they agree to your line of management?
2) Your INTERPERSONAL SKILLS are extremely important. Everyone who clears med school knows how to manage asthma. They don't want to know about medicines and their mechanisms of action. They want to know how you will rule out any red flags, relay your plan to the patient and manage their concerns. We aren't just managing asthma but the patient as a whole.
3) Use ICE (ideas/Concerns/Expectations) in every consultation. Enquire about psycho-social factors, ask if they have support, and genuinely help them feel better. If a patient with a headache is concerned about cancer, but you've just sent them off with paracetamol without addressing the concern, you cant pass.
4) Remember you are an FY2. Don't order investigations and treatment beyond your level. INVOLVE YOUR SENIORS WHEN NEEDED - they're always around to help you, just like in real life. You won't impress the examiner with your knowledge.
5) Along the same tangent, it is absolutely okay not to know something. It is okay to say you aren't sure. I was not able to diagnose my patient in one of the examination stations, and I was honest about it. "Mr. X, I feel the lump you're worried about, but at this moment, I am not able to make out exactly what it is. Would it be alright if I asked my seniors to have a look as well?"
6) Remember, there are 16 stations, and all of them are equally important. Don't let one bad station affect the next one - that can be disastrous. Use the 1.5 minutes before your next station to calm your mind and plan the next one.
7) Even if you know you've messed up a station, don't give up midway. Remember, even if you fail a station, those marks will still contribute to your overall score. Keep trying until the station ends.
8) Do not volunteer information that hasn't been asked just to sound smart. Only answer what the patient is asking you to avoid sounding scripted.
9) DO NOT learn scripts. It is painfully obvious when you already know something and cut straight to the diagnosis without ruling out other possible causes.
10) Lastly, eat all the cookies you can in your rest stations! Nothing is worse than consulting on an empty stomach (the chocolate ones were my favourite, followed by the butter cookies).
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