My Two Cents
Amanda has asked me to write a few works to give advice to the new trainees starting so here is my two cents.
To all new 1st year Sprs, that may be busy in the first weeks of July polishing their new Spr badges, (mainly Cooper and Kelly) congratulations on getting on the scheme but I am sorry to say that it’s not all plain sailing from here, there are a few speed bumps to be negotiated even in first year. There is this thing called the ISCP that will probably be responsible for a few sleepless nights during your time on the scheme. The consultants now at this stage probably all know their pass words and how to use the ISCP due to the pioneering Sprs that have gone before ye. My advice would be to do the ‘paper work’ on the ISCP gradually and space it out over the rotation. The consultants generally don’t like being bombarded with hundreds of ISCP forms on the last night and as long as you haven’t been actively maiming patients during your rotation, they normally are fairly good at signing them off. The next speed bump is the UKITE MCQ in December, its nice to be aware of it but speaking as someone who managed to get one of the lowest marks in the British Isles in first year (due to technical difficulties, anybody who know me, knows how gifted I am with the computer), it is not the most important thing in the run of things in first year. It is more important in later years around exam time. The most important thing that ye need to know about in first year is BASIC SCIENCE. January is squeaky bum time and without passing basic science, you cannot progress to second year and you will not pick it up from ‘being on the job’. You cannot bluff it so get a book and get reading it early, even practicing talking about it with your other half because in January, you will have to be able to speak about it in the VIVA. And if your significant other can draw you a stress strain curve and discuss the properties of PMMA with you by January, they are a keeper, sadly if they can’t, I am sorry but you will have to start looking for someone else. Once you have safely navigated your way through the VIVAs in January, second year beckons.
Another piece of advice is to pay attention to your log book, you need 1800 cases over the 6 years and in particular pay attention to the Indicative cases, it can be a famine or a feast with some of these indicative cases, so if there is an indicative case on a list that you might have a chance to do, make sure you do it even if that disenfranchises some of your non scheme colleagues. It is your priority to achieve the target number of these cases so you can exit the other end of the scheme. Also during your time on the scheme, there will be rotations, where for a variety of different reasons, there will be plenty of operating and other rotations where there will be less so. My advice there is to make hay while the sun shines, ie. take all the operations you can where the going is good, it will balance out the numbers for the winter months as such.
In connection with the exam, I am no expert but studying for the mock vivas does help. For the MCQ, Orthobullets, Miller and the MCQ books that are circulating through the group seem to get most people over the line but it I have to say that it was the vaguest MCQ that I have ever done.
For me the VIVA was a different story, I had the pleasure of doing it twice. It is a fair exam but sometimes something can throw you and things might not go right on the day. So the Vivas are important practice but also talking among yourselves and practicing examinations are important. The main think to note is that if you hit a bump on the road like me, there is plenty of help around. I will always be grateful to Professor Mac Niocaill and the consultants in Waterford who coached me and helped me with exam technique so that I was successful the second time. For anybody doing the exam , always worth a visit. What you should know is that if you are having trouble with something, there is always someone around to help if you ask. Another recommendation for the VIVA exam is the Post Graduate Orthopaedic book as the chapters and questions are written and phrased as you are asked during the exam. Unfortunately I have lost mine since the exam. I am heading up north in July to do an Arthroplasty fellowship in Belfast for 12 months, that is if I can still get up there after BREXIT.
To conclude, I would say the main thing is to enjoy the scheme while you are on it, it will be over before you know it(still have to get my CCST so might be a bit longer yet) and make some good friends while you are on it and maybe do some operating every now and again.