THIS ARTICLE HAS BEEN WRITTEN TO HELP INTERNATIONAL DOCTORS DECIDE WHEN THEY SHOULD DO THE FRCR EXAM

When should I do the FRCR 2B exam

Let us consider the scenario of three different candidates who are going for the FRCR exam

Candidate One, is a third year UK trainee who has just finished the FRCR 2A in November. He will be eligible to sit FRCR 2B in October of the following year at the start of his fourth year of training (in a five year programme)…….

Candidate Two, is an international doctor based in Asia. He passed his local board exam four years ago and has been given working as a Consultant since. He is married with a young family. He passed the FRCR 2A three years ago and has been waiting on the rolling list for FRCR 2B since. His current number on the list is 500. He suddenly gets an email in February offering him a place in April of that year. This has come out of the blue as he was not expecting to do the exam for another year as he was 500 on the rolling list……

Candidate Three is an international doctor based in Asia. He has passed his local board exam five years ago. He passed FRCR 2A five years ago as well. He is on the rolling list for FRCR and his latest number is 150. He was expecting a call six months ago but did not get a place but is aware there is a high likelihood of being called this time. He has been preparing for the last year for the FRCR exam. He has been talking to people who have done the exam, taken part in free webinars dedicated to helping trainees and he has also been developing his technique by using books. He has several study partners in a similar situation based in different cities. They have been practising together ad hoc using whatsapp and other webinar based resources. He finally gets an email in February with an offer of a place for April of that year…… 

 

WHICH CANDIDATE IS MOST LIKELY TO PASS THE EXAM?


The answer is candidate one, candidate three and then candidate two in likelihood of passing order. If the answer is not obvious to you please consider these famous quotes, from the Art of War to try and help formulate your thought process

“If you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles”

“Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win”


Candidate One is in a UK training programme and will be surrounded by people going for the exam. Some of the people will pass and others will fail. This puts him in a strong position to have a very good understand of the exam (KNOW YOUR ENEMY). He will be able to determine what tricks passing candidates are using to prepare. He will have seen how these people presented cases prior to the exam and have time to analyse and adjust his own approach. Importantly having access to failing candidates will enable him to appreciate common mistakes, blind spots and how much work is needed to pass the exam-simply by talking to the two groups about preparation time (IDENTIFY OWN WEAKNESSES AND FIX). He can get books easily, know which courses to do and can receive free local teaching. Also, he recently passed the FRCR 2A and will retain a lot of the knowledge base. This will put him in a strong position for FRCR 2B. The long duration between 2A and 2B enables him to have time to fix mistakes. There will be others going for the exam in the same position and this provides for an automatic network of people to work with (ACHIEVE THE CONDITIONS OF VICTORY BEFORE FIGHTING).

Candidate Two is unfortunately completely in the dark and isolated. He does not understand what the exam standard is as he has not communicated to anyone who has recently done the exam (HE DOES NOT KNOW THE ENEMY). As he has no knowledge of what to expect therefore he is unable to formulate an effective strategy to pass it. He also does not know his own strengths and weakness as he has not practiced these few years (HE DOES NOT KNOW HIMSELF). He does not have a support mechanism and has been busy working, making it hard to revise for the exam. He has no study partners (HE HAS NOT CREATED THE CONDITIONS NEEDED TO IMPROVE HIS CHANCES OF PASSING). He is in a moral dilemma! If he can pass the exam this would improve his resume and enable him to progress up the career ladder faster. Otherwise he may have to wait another year! Does he turn up for the exam looking to pass or think about next time when he is more prepared.

Candidate Three does not have the natural advantage of candidate one but has bridged this through hard work. His networking and planning over a longer time enables him to develop a strategy to tackle the exam. He has some contacts who have done the exam although not as extensive as candidate one but there is support and information (HE HAS SOME KNOWLEDGE OF THE ENEMY). He has used this to make sure he doesn’t make common mistakes international doctors make (HE PARTIALLY KNOW HIMSELF). He has been preparing for a while and has a network (HE IS IN A POSITION TO TRY AND ACHIEVE THE CONDITIONS OF VICTORY). He also has the option to defer another six months as he is high on the rolling list and will likely get a place even then.

 


“The Death Ground Strategy”

 

‘Yes, back yourself into a mountain, in fact, back yourself into a mountain full of dry trees and light that mountain on fire. This way you have no choice but to advance. At first you can admire the great spectacle that is the flames. But as it grows you will begin to feel the heat. The flames rise and you are left with a choice. Do I stand here and die or do I fight my way through the other side?’

Death ground is a reference to a situation were soldiers when presented with do or die situations find ways to do the extraordinary. Think of Allied soldiers landing in Normandy beaches in the Second World War. They had to swim through machine gun fire, climb beaches littered with traps and run up hills to reach the enemy! They could not go backwards but were put in an impossible situation. But yet they prevailed. Applying this principle to our three scenarios. The UK trainee has no choice but to do the exam. He has been forced into a situation where he cannot defer. He is not a Consultant and has everything to fight for. Failing or not doing the exam means the ignominy of not achieving CCST (Certificate of Completion of Specialist Training) after all that hard work and losing his place in the training programme. Candidates Two and Three are already Consultants. In short candidates Two and Three can walk away but candidate one cannot …..

Think about these candidates, who will fight harder to pass, the chap who does not have a choice or the two guys who do!


MY ADVICE

  1. DO NOT ATTEMPT THE EXAM UNLESS YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT IS NEEDED TO PASS
  2. DO NOT ATTEMPT THE EXAM UNLESS YOU HAVE TIME TO PREPARE
  3. PLEASE READ THE ARTICLES ON THIS WEBSITE TO TRY AND UNDERSTAND A BIT MORE ABOUT THE FRCR EXAM
  4. PLEASE USE THE VIVA SECTION TO TEST YOURSELF