My PLAB 1 experience is rather unique so not sure if it will be helpful to all


#1

Dear doctors,

My PLAB 1 experience is rather unique so not sure if it will be helpful to all. But there are some who are likely to benefit so here it is…

First my background. I graduated in 1988 from King Edward Medical University Pakistan (it was Medical College back then) and went through a one year house job in Medicine and Surgery. However, I then left the practice of medicine and joined the pharmaceutical industry on the commercial side – not the medical affairs side. I migrated to the UK 10 years ago and was fortunate to have been able to find a job in the company I was working for in Pakistan - once again on the commercial side. I was though not at the same level as I had reached in Pakistan (the price one has to pay for a migration esp. when you make it late in life).

A few years ago I decided that I should move to the medical affairs side of the industry. I discovered that whereas there are some jobs that the industry might consider me for, generally even industry truly considers us doctors if we have GMC registration.

Some friends started suggesting that I should go through the process of getting a GMC registration but I was extremely hesitant due to the 30 years gap since my graduation, during which I had not been in touch with medicine in any clinical capacity. Eventually I decided to take the plunge at the beginning of this year.

I started taking some tentative steps towards studying. Almost testing the waters to see if it seems doable – exploring how different or similar the material was to when I left it, how much my stale knowledge of 30 years ago might come back, how much of an effort this might be etc. After a few weeks of this I started feeling more reassured and felt that this was doable though perhaps not in the first attempt.

Whereas I did start going through the 1700 question bank at a very slow pace, the initial resources I used were very different from whatever I have seen mentioned in the Facebook groups. It so happened that I had to go to see an after-hour GP for something. Now, one of the huge differences from when I graduated is the internet and how doctors use it even during a consultation. Back in 1988, you could only refer to a book during a consultation, which doctors would hardly ever do for fear of loss of credibility. I asked the GP which sites he refers to. One of the sites he mentioned was GP Notebook. I went to this resource online and then downloaded its app on my android as well as my work iPhone. I found these apps extremely useful resources. The android app is called Quickmedicine whereas the iPhone one is called GPnotebook. About these apps:

  1. They were not free apps. The android one was a lot cheaper than the iPhone one
  2. I found them to be really good resources esp. for me in this initial period. The search function is excellent, the material is quite up to date and in line with UK guideline
  3. Most importantly the material is very interlinked which for me was really beneficial since I had forgotten everything. For things to start making sense to me again the ability to readily click on a link, go to the relevant section of a medical term and then get back to topic I was studying was very beneficial
  4. The android app is not the most stable app. It would often crash. I would have to shut it and then reload it. But this was a tiny irritation and did not take away from the quality of the material and connectivity.

I started reading important topics from these apps and kept visiting them off and on to clarify stuff or read some topics or as a reference.

Another thing I started doing was watching YouTube videos – another resource that didn’t exist when I graduated. There are quite a few of these on almost every subject. I would go through various ones but the ones that I would like to specifically mention were from osmosis.org. I would strongly recommend these to anyone in a similar situation.

Very occasionally (actually rarely) I would refer to the OHCM or Davidson’s Textbook.

While doing all of this I kept going through the 1700 at a snail’s pace. Around 6 to 8 weeks before the exam date, I started going through the Samson Notes. These are a good resource but since the ones that are available are from 2014, they are slightly out dated. I would still recommend them.

Finally I subscribed to Plabable and started going through its mocks and its subject wise sections. I value this resource quite high. Most explanations are concise, relevant and according to the current guidelines. It doesn’t limit the explanations to only the correct answer.

My style of studying has always been a bit different from others. I go through material at a very slow pace but perhaps more thoroughly. I write down points, more to get them into my memory, than as notes to refer to later. I therefore couldn’t go through any of the resources (1700, Samson notes, Plabable) more than once despite intending to.

All of the above took me around 5 months during which I spent almost 100% of my evenings and weekends and around 20 or so days that I took annual leave. I am pretty certain I would have been the oldest person taking the test on the 28th of June and am extremely pleased and relieved to have passed it – not by a huge margin, but in the first attempt. It is still sinking in and the process is far from done. I just booked the part 2 exam, emailed a PLAB 2 training academy and have started having the same trepidations that I had at the beginning of the PLAB 1 prep. Hope all goes well.

I wish everyone all the best and hope your respective aspirations come true. I have to mention, I had a huge sense of nostalgia seeing all of you younger crowd. Memories of my days as a fresh graduate and a younger person came back. Time goes by soooo quickly. Don’t forget to enjoy the journey…