By THE GRACE of ALLAH and the countless hours and effort put in by Common station, Dr Hamed Salehi and Dr Elmira Yaghmaei I have easily passed the Plab 2 exam. I cannot thank Dr Hamed, Dr Elmira and the whole team enough. May Allah bless you all! It was only through their hard work and dedication that I could pass this stressful exam. Countless sleepless nights and hard days finally paid off!!
Never have I had a teacher as amazing as Dr Hamed in my whole college life and I want to share my experience of him and the course in detail. This was the best decision to attend common stations, the course could not get any better. This post is a long time coming and the reason I didn’t post anything sooner was because I had been so busy with work that I wasn’t able to do however, I’ve seen so many lies and false rumours about this amazing place and I think it is my duty and moral responsibility as his student to speak out even though words like the ones on facebook cannot crumble such strong foundations.
The course is 15 days long and even after the course you have review classes, supervised workshop, simman sessions and 2 mocks with the whole 18 stations and a study room open 24 hours and all of these amenities are included in the course fee…. And you can re attend all the sessions if you need free of charge. I think it is absolutely worth every single penny.
Now, to all the doctors who helped me choose Common Stations with your detailed feedback I want to leave my own so I too can help others.
DR HAMED AND DR ELMIRA:
The whole course is taught by the brilliant Dr Hamed and wonderful Dr Elmira. All of the history, counselling, ethical, simman and review classes are taught by Dr Hamed and clinical examination, procedures, mannequin stations and workshop by Dr Elmira.
To be honest one of the main reasons why I chose Common Stations was because of this very reason and I think that their biggest strongpoint is those two amazing teachers! This is irreplaceable and can’t be found in other academies.
We do not see teachers who have recently passed their plab exams or with no experience at all. Just because you have passed your plab 2 does not automatically make you a teacher. I have just passed my plab 2 and I cannot even in my wildest of dreams imagine teaching especially teaching like Dr Hamed or Dr Elmira. I think a good teacher needs the experience of teaching, to be updated with the UK guidelines and have NHS experience. Dr Hamed and dr Elmira are highly experienced and know exactly what they are doing because they have been doing it for years.
If you’re looking for real teaching Common Stations is the place for you, not someone who has recently passed and just reads from the notes. I think this is the only place that the course conductor is always there and teaching not using just his name to publicise and not do any real teaching himself. We saw Dr Hamed from the very first day all the way till our exam.
The classes themselves are so fun and interactive. Dr Hamed is probably one of the most charismatic people I know and he really knows how to keep the class engaged. Dr Elmira is a wonderful teacher! She’s very friendly and she makes the examination and mannequin classes so fun! I was always wary of examinations but she made it so easy!
Dr Hamed and Dr Elmira are the most dedicated and hard working teachers I have seen, they’re so positive all the time and encourage you no matter what. I still do not know how they can stand on their feet for hours on end without getting tired and without missing a beat. It just amazes me. They have a real passion for teaching, and you can clearly see that they love doing what they do best. They’re natural born teachers.
Dr Hamed is the heart and Dr Elmira is the soul of the academy. I’m amazed when I hear rumours that Dr Hamed and Dr Elmira don’t teach but actually this is the only academy in which it’s the case that they are the only teachers there.
GMC REGISTRATION AND NHS EXPERIENCE:
Both Dr Hamed and Dr Elmira are registered with the GMC and they are qualified to work in the NHS and continue to work there. I think that NHS experience is so important when teaching us for success in the Plab 2 because they know the day to day changes in the NHS and all the changes and scenarios really do happen in the NHS day to day practice.
Not only this, but these people know plab exam inside and out! They know the way the exam works, the structure of the exam itself and they know exactly what is expected from a doctor in the UK, what is required to pass plab with ease and knowing about the NHS system and to know all this and be an expert on it you need experience and for people who have just passed their plab 2 this is not a feasible thing. What I am trying to say is that the plab 2 is not just about teaching from notes but you need the experience in so many aspects to be such excellent teachers like Dr Hamed or Dr Elmira.
INDIVIDUAL ATTENTION AND SUPPORT:
One of the benefits of having 2 teachers there, is that they know all the students by name. And when I say all, I mean it! They offer us individual support during and after the course, and even after the exam itself. Due to the close rapport they have with us they know all of our weaknesses and strong points and they support everyone based on their individual needs. It may be interesting enough for everyone to know that if we don’t attend the class, not show up for the mock or even not practice in the academy they chase us up to ask how we’re doing and if everything is okay! Even after the exam as well, if you have any questions about registration, job interviews or anything like that they are always happy to help.
From the submission of my course application form dr Hamed gave me a call himself and talked to me, listened to me and answered all of the questions I had, he was so patient and supportive even from then. I found this very professional and it really cleared any confusion I may have had. From when I submitted my application it did take some time for Dr Hamed to call which was a little bit stressful, I think I died and came back to life but it was totally worth the time in the end!! I really recommend that if you have any questions you should ask Dr Hamed when he calls…. You should not believe the rumours going round on facebook which bring your spirits down and discourage you, I really wouldn’t recommend asking anyone who may look dodgy or not genuine on social media, on the contrary you need self-confidence and motivation to help you on this journey. I would recommend to stay away from toxic words and people. Another thing is that if you only just submit the course application form theres no need to pay any money or anything, you just give your telephone number and Dr Hamed then contacts you himself.
When my results came he also called me to congratulate me and said if I have any questions about GMC registration or anything like that I could call him any time.
Dr Hamed and Dr Elmira are always available, either you see them around, in the academy or if they are not around, you have their personal contact numbers to get in touch when you have any questions. ANY issue they are happy to help with as small as you may think, it is from being lonely to questions about a station they are happy to help.
In truth they are just a phone call away and with their busy schedule I do not know how they can deal with it but they still do! They always encourage us to ask whatever question we may have and do not want to keep it to ourselves. Normally they stay till after the class to answer our questions and they are normally around after the class in the academy where they can answer the questions we have till the last student asks the last question. Even after the class I see them walk around in the self practice rooms to see how we are and what we’re up to! All this support and advice that we get in addition to the course is absolutely priceless and I think it is worth so much more than the fee that we pay for the course. I think that this is such a selfless gesture from them given how busy they are.
SUPERVISED PRACTICE WORKSHOP:
This was one of my favourite moments in the whole course. These classes are run under Dr Elmira’s personal supervision. They split us into small groups and then Dr Elmira acts as a patient and we roleplay different stations and we practice them with her. Whilst in the meanwhile we are supervised for our practice. She focuses on our communication and interpersonal skills and really helps us with our approach and how to deal with difficult patients and colleagues and difficult situations. It is so beneficial that they do this and it really shows us how we are supposed to practice correctly for the plab 2.
Common stations is the only academy who actually has the same simman used by the GMC in the real exam. And I really think that this is one of the strong points for Common Stations. The dreaded nightmarish simman stations are no worry for us in the exam when you have spent time to practice on the same simman as will be coming up in the exam. This gives us a feeling of ease and I think puts us ahead of other students in other academies. The simman is still very different anatomically to a real person and its so crucial to have had practice on the simman before the exam especially as the gmc are releasing new simman stations so regularly. The simman becomes so easy as theres no surprises in the exam for us.
I’m in awe that they say that their simman is non operational when in fact they are the only academy with an operational simman.
We are offered 2 mock exams with 18 stations each. You read the task for 1.5 minutes and 8 minutes to perform the task and take the station. The feedback is detailed and one-to-one. It really helps to see where you need to work on and your strong points and also your weaknesses as they spend their time and do not rush through it.
From the first day we get added to our batch whatsapp group. It’s so useful to get to know each other and all become friends! Makes the batch really feel like family… Its also really useful for sharing information, we can discuss the stations and just get to know one another and be comfortable with each other.
There is enough space for self practice and all the mannequins and instruments that the GMC uses are available to us and they also have a study area which is open and available to us 24 hours 7 days a week.
The academy is in Barking in London. It is an up and coming area. It is always busy in Barking, a very lively and safe area… there are so many shops from halal to non-halal within walking distance, a big Asda where you can do shopping and a tesco which is downstairs just outside the academy. Theres so many different foods, like Pakistani, Turkish, Indian, Nigerian and big names like Mcdonalds, subway, Nando’s and KFC and loads and loads more fast food restaurants. All at good prices! There are two pharmacies nearby as well, one is open till very late as well which is really useful. There are bus stops opposite the academy and Barking Station is not even a 2 minute walk from the academy. Theres a really useful and large shopping centre next to the academy, where there is a post office and banks nearby as well. There a big library just 1 minute walk from the academy which can be useful sometimes.
Everyone in the academy is so friendly and helpful. There’s always a calm environment, Dr Hamed and Dr Elmira are the most amazing people I have ever met, there is this sense of family from the first few days. We feel really supported both by them and the admin team. I think one of the most important aspects to passing the Plab 2 exam is a warm, friendly environment and somewhere you feel comfortable in. No one is there to discourage you and no one there wants to take from your confidence if anything they boost your confidence and motivate you to be the best you can. There are times where we all feel homesick, just a little down or having any personal issues at all you can always rely on someone to be there for you. I remember that when I was having my own issues I told Dr Elmira and she took me into a room and talked to me for over an hour. She was so comforting and nice to me, she is an absolute gem!! If there is anyone to talk to it is Dr Elmira she is amazing. You can tell them anything and everything, any bit of advice or any issue you face you can let them know.
ACADEMY OPENING TIMES:
The academy opens from 08:30am. The class normally starts at 10:00am, its so useful that we can go to the academy one and half hours before the class to study and practice before the lesson. The classes always start on time and is punctual. In my batch the classes would end from 08:00pm to 09:00pm roughly and theres an hour and a half for lunch plus, during the day you’re free to leave and have a little tea or coffee break. The office closes at 10:30pm however there is the study area which is open 24 hours.
In my batch there was one day of the review class which ended late, the reason being that the GMC had released new stations and Dr Hamed was set in teaching them.
In Common Stations there are people from everywhere and the range of candidates is so diverse. This is so useful because you can practice with so many people from different countries and mentalities. This means that everyone can have different study partners and no one has to just stick to one person and you can switch study partners easily and that’s so crucial to pass the exam to have different study partners. I met some absolutely amazing doctors there, we supported each other and learnt so much from one another and having such a strong network of doctors experiencing the same issues as you really helps during any tough times you may be having.
The staff at Common Stations are so helpful and supportive, they work tirelessly to ensure that we are learning what Dr Hamed is teaching. They are always ready to help and provide us with anything we may need. They are always available and help us out a lot with any of our questions or requests.
Me and my friends used the accommodation offered by the academy the whole time from the start of the course till our exam. We stayed in the female accommodation. I would highly recommend it, the building itself is just opposite the academy so we do not face any issues getting home if we are studying late. It is safe and well kept. The prices are so affordable for what you can expect in London. They have different rooms they can offer also. Dr Ahmad is really helpful and he provides us with anything we may need for our rooms and they’re very cooperative with us. Dr Ahmad himself is always available in the academy till late night if we need anything from him. It is really good to know that all the people in the accommodation are all doctors and on the course or have done the course and it means that you can practice even in the accommodation itself.
WHAT IF YOU FAIL?:
Nothing’s guaranteed for you to pass the exam it is your own doing with hard work and practice. Dr Hamed even said it in the class that “people fail here as well” the only thing you can do is “practice, practice, practice!!”. I think that Common Stations go above and beyond and do more than they should and they try their best to help us pass and the rest is down to your own hard work, dedication and positive mentality. However, I wanted to say what I know about the facilities provided to the people who fail the exam. I know that they can attend the full course again free of charge and you have unlimited access to the mannequins and the self practice rooms and you can attend the review classes, workshop, simman session and mocks free of charge. Dr Hamed and Dr Elmira also stay in touch with you, give you emotional support and help you as much as they can to help you pass the next time round. They also update you with all the newest stations and give you the materials that you will be needing.
Study materials and Updated new stations:
I have received online study material prior to the course which I found it extremely helpful.
They provide you with comprehensive printed material for each an every station based on current UK guidelines.
The exam is constantly changing and theres always new stations being added to the plab 2 exam. One amazing thing that Common Stations do is that they get the updated stations to us really quickly and have them ready in no time at all.
I have some advice as a friend to just give to you guys. Please research properly about the academy you want to join – please take this advice from genuine people. I’d recommend asking your friends in your university and your friends outside. Those who have attended courses before and know about them through and through. There’s a lot of negativity, lies, deception and rumours surrounding Common Stations. Don’t be a victim to all of this.
I’ve seen a lot of people saying that all academies are the same but I think this is a really shallow belief and there is no real basis around it.
The last piece of advice (and probably most important) is to listen to Dr Hamed and Dr Elmira. Their words could be the difference between you passing or failing.
Allah bless you all