Sunday, 17 March 2013

The End is Nigh

Dear folks

The end is nigh....GAMSAT Australia sits in 6 days. If you haven't started preparing yet....what were you thinking.....either that or you're a genius and will be one of those annoying people that makes the whole exam look super least try to pretend it was hard :)

ImageWord from the not so wise, go easy on yourself! Let's face it, you're not going to cram the reading list in the next 6 days. By all means, brush up and review some last minute details, but by now most of the struggling should be done! My top tips for the next 6 days:

Monday: review your notes
Tuesday: practice puzzles, sudoku, cross words, anything that limbers you up mentally (think dual N back)
Wednesday: do something fun! Watch a (good) movie or read a book; thereby preparing and relaxing at the same time-helps to ameliorate the perfectionistic guilt!
Thursday: have a crack at some more ACER questions under exam conditions.....if you don't do so well, it's all good! Use the exercise to try and patch up any last minute flaws in exam technique
Friday: eat well, do some exercise, read a good book-preferably something funny

Friday night:
2-Sleep soundly (can't change anything now....might as well sleep well!)
Saturday morning:
1-Get up early.....not the day to be late.....
2-Eat a nourishing and well balanced breakfast....avoid excessive carbohydrates and simple sugars (sugar dumps are a biatch!)
3-Make your way to the exam hall in a leisurely fashion, maybe walk and incorporate some light exercise in the process-I did and it felt rather surreal and nice!)
4-Walk into the exam hall like you own the joint, smash the exam with 15 minutes to spare, give the invigilator a Fonzie style 'aaaaayyyyyyyy' as you leave!
5-Proceed to pina colada

PS: with respect to those people who habitually try to undermine other people's confidence at the interval- win by being excellent rather than trying to make other people suck. If you're affected by this sort of thing on the politely and say 'totally'...... then walk away saying 'aaaayyyyy' (in your head of course!)

Good luck peeps.....shall see some of you about the hospital next year!! Come visit me in ED for the exploding leg special!!

PPS: there were 600 page views last month, feel free to follow us, recommend us, like us, whatever....just want to feel like less of a Nigel when I see our 3 followers (but love all 3 of you!!)......aaaaayyyyyyy :)


Monday, 11 March 2013

So You're a Pharmacist Who's Thinking of Doing Medicine

That's good. That's perfectly natural. In my cohort at university, there are at least four pharmacists from Adelaide (myself included) and one from Auckland, all of whom have worked in the hospital system. There are numerous other pharmacists I've personally known who have made the progression into medical school. Interestingly, unlike (say) Science or Health Science students, for whom their chosen course is often a stepping stone for medicine, many pharmacists seem to go into medicine out of disillusionment with their career and/or a keen sense of its limitations.

And no wonder. Apothecarists and pharmacists once had a clearly defined role; we made the pharmaceutical preparations that the physicians prescribed. Obviously this required a strong knowledge of chemistry. Nowadays, this role is much curtailed, and our profession's role is uncertain even to many pharmacists.

So why should you make the jump into medicine? Here are a few reasons:

1. There a dizzying number of career possibilities open to you as a medical graduate. There seem to be more medical colleges than there are career pathways for pharmacists! Anaesthetics, surgery, internal medicine, paediatrics, psychiatry, obstetrics and gynaecology, dermatology, pathology, intensive care, medical I missing anything? (Dave H says don't forget that medicine and surgery are MASSIVE fields in themselves-oncology, respirology, cardiology, ENT, general, urology etc etc) As a pharmacist, your options really are limited. Overwhelmingly, those options are either community pharmacy or hospital pharmacy.

2. As a pharmacist, your responsibility and autonomy is necessarily limited. You are an expert on pharmacological treatments, but of course that's only one facet of medicine. As a doctor, you can participate in diagnosis, you can perform surgical and non-surgical procedures, and you can be involved in other non-pharmacological forms of treatment. It's not just the number of pathways you can take that make medicine an amazing career, it's the breadth and depth of the work that you can do when you get there. Furthermore, it's not just being able to do all of those things, but learning all of those things is fascinating as well.

3. Let's be frank here, doctors are at the forefront of the healthcare system. Do you really want to spend the rest of your life having to plead with your medical colleagues to listen to your eminently wise and useful suggestions? If your ideas are excellent, why not move into a career where you can put these to good use? (ie; director of medicine at a major hospital or head of research at a major institution) :)

That's not to say that there aren't drawbacks to medicine, or that there aren't positives to pharmacy. Pharmacy is obviously a lot more "lifestyle friendly" than many medical specialties. The fact that pharmacists have less responsibility, or don't get to be involved in performing procedures, may very well be appealing to you, and fair enough!

If you think that medicine might be right for you, sit the GAMSAT (and what sort of Director would I be if I didn't spruik our own course?) As a pharmacist - especially one who has practised alongside doctors and nurses in public hospitals - I really feel like I have a big advantage in the course. I've had discussions with older pharmacists whose dissatisfaction has helped propel me into medicine. Think about it - seriously, what have you got to lose?

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Sorry for the confusion folks

Hey all

Recently our PayPal account was suspended (sighhhhh). This came about out of genuine good will on behalf of our company. EmergencyOne are charitable contributors to The Salvation Army, The Alannah and Madeline foundation and The Smith Family. This is part of our company's commitment to philanthropy, our comunity and supporting education as a principle for the betterment of humanity. As a result of the recent good fortune our business has had, we decided to offer our candidates the opportunity to elect to have their course fees donated to the Smith Family in lieu of payment to us.

This unfortunately caused a ruckus with PayPal (and rightly so) as we were seen to be raising funds on behalf of this charity as opposed to what we are; a commercial enterprise that believes in philanthropy. As such, we have removed from our website any affiliation with The Smith Family and from now, all money received will be as fee for service rendered by our business. Please be assured that the above mentioned principles remain fundamental for us. We will continue to make charitable donations to these and other worthwhile charities. We will do this at our discretion and will happily make available to anyone wanting to know the details of these donations.

We thank you for your patience and hopefully our PayPal account will be back online by tomorrow.

David & David

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Introducing our new Executive Junior Vice President! :)

Hiya folks, recently I had the very great honour of meeting a young man by the name of David Plevin. I met him whilst an intern when he was serving as the clinical pharmacist on the same ward. You can ask any intern what their opinion of clinical pharmacists is and the almost universal response is that they are virtual everyday miracle workers. These wonderful creatures appear with handfuls of charts and point out endless easy solutions of how to get around PBS red-tape, obscure drug interactions, cheaper alternatives and generally happy solutions to life's misery. Imagine your in car GPS could also give you helpful tax advice, remind you to call your mum for her birthday, warn you that the car in front had stopped, book your dinner reservation and park your car while you ran inside....that's what clinical pharmacists are like, they rock!! But I digress!

Add to that the fact that the aforementioned young man is a bit of a smart cookie and just a top it off an all round top bloke! Not too long after that he came along and became one of the first students to attend our Reasoning for the GAMSAT course. He subsequently blew the exam out of the water; much to my dismay he made my score look a little inadequate and made the 99th percentile on his first attempt.....I'm sure he did it with his feet on the desk too the smart ass :)

Hence afterwards when we got to talking, he expressed his beliefs in what we were teaching and how it helped him (though I'm sure more than a little natural talent came into play). Hence I'm honoured to say he has come on board as our Managing Partner and Director of Content (He made me promise not to call him Executive Junior Vice President!). So without further ado, I introduce David Plevin, scientist, pharmacist, medical student, entrepreneur, gentleman and scholar!

1-) What's your background? I've studied both Science (doing Honours in pharmacology) and Pharmacy, and have worked in hospital pharmacy in South Australia for the past 3 years.
2-) Where will you study medicine and when? Flinders University, commencing February 2013.

3-) What made you want to study medicine? The huge array of career pathways open to a medical graduate, and the opportunities for career advancement. The ability to make a real difference on a day-to-day basis with patients. Having a much wider base of knowledge about health and disease, and being able to do much more professionally - diagnosis, procedures, non-pharmacological treatments. From a pragmatic sense, doctors are the ones with the power in the healthcare system. And importantly, discussions with older pharmacists!

4-) What was your biggest fear/worry leading up to the GAMSAT in 2012? Oh, you mean apart from sock puppets? It's a good question... I think I was reasonably - and relatively! -  blasé about the whole thing. (This doesn't mean that I didn't do a lot of study - I did - it just means I was somewhat nonchalant about it all.) I'm pretty sure that this attitude helped me. (like I said, with his feet on the desk!)

5-) What did you find most helpful about the EmergencyOne course (or least for that matter?!) The ability to see how you are faring compared to others, and the opportunity to discuss your thoughts and concerns about the GAMSAT and medicine itself!

6-) What was you score and percentile rank? My overall score was 76, which lands in the top 1% or so. 

7-) What did you find most helpful to prepare for the GAMSAT? Practice questions (ACER and Des O'Neill). I did a lot of revision, especially for physics - doing physics exercises is a good mental work out that you won't necessarily get with chemistry or biology! Having a study partner. Importantly, the epiphany, confirmed by David Hooper, that this is not so much a test of knowledge but a test of problem solving (Naturally our new Directing Partner isn't promoting the competition-slaps forehead-I've only done the Des' interview course and must say, it's good quality, credit where it's due people!)

8-) What are you most looking forward to about studying medicine? Getting an exposure to so many different clinical areas, having so many doors wide open in the future, and being able to do things I'd never otherwise get to do!

9-) If you could give our readers one piece of advice in preparing for GAMSAT, what would it be? 

Relax! Being less stressed and more detached has two benefits - firstly, you may be more likely to succeed in your endeavours, and secondly, if you don't succeed, you'll be less worried.

Friday, 30 November 2012

BAM!! 2013 Successes and New Course Dates

Bam, time to knock it up a notch (James, Jussie, Carmel that one's for you if you're reading!) Congratulations from Gove, I hope you're proud of yourself mate!! A massive shout out to our 2012 candidates who made it into Flinders to study in 2013 it's a huge achievement. Hopefully there'll be something on the blog from a few of them in the coming weeks. To the candidates who I haven't managed to get in touch with, drop me a line, I'd love to hear how you went!

It's time to give it a blast with the spice weasel (Futurama fans will know what I'm talking about, the rest of you will just assume I'm a tad strange). Christmas is fast approaching and we're catapulting head long into 2013! Alas my own exam aspirations for early 2013 are falling in a heap, so I thought I'd concentrate on your's instead....I'm just that kinda guy :)

ACER have announced the 2013 GAMSAT for 23 March; hence our original proposed course date of mid January looks embarassingly premature and a little awkward. So we've changed it to a fashionably conscientious February 16th, shortly after late registration closes. It's a Saturday, 9-5 at the Adelaide Visualisation Centre again (they're a good mob and the venue's nice-though Pinnacle on Pirie has caught my eye....and they have a pool......).

Following that, we're running the GAMSAT lectures on Thursday 21st, 28th February and 7th, 14th, 21st March from 5-7pm. These ones should be webcast for our interstate guests and will consist of short lectures followed by intensive PBL style workshops to get the noggin ticking over just in time for the real thing on the 23rd.

In the interim, sit back, relax, enjoy your Christmas with family and some nice un-nameable horror from beyond, with mango chutney!! (really, you ought to watch Futurama....consider it preparation for Section I). Have a safe and prosperous New Year!!


Monday, 13 August 2012

Alas Pareto; I Did Not Know Him

I will start off by saying I have never read Pareto's work, nor for that matter have I read Hamlet. That is first and foremost because applying The Pareto Principle is vital to the study of medicine (and thus justifies not bothering to read it.....I'll explain the paradox).

In it's simplest form, Pareto's Priciple states that 80% of output is derived from 20% of input; in otherwords, 20% of your hard work will accomplish 80% of your desired outcomes. This principle is discussed in just about every popular work on achievement and self-help in modern times. It's also the reason that I've never bothered to read the rest of Paretto's work as yet; 80% of the benefit derived from this principle can be derived just from the words above (considerably less than 20% of the thesis). Reading any more than this will have exponentially diminishing returns and increasing effort expenditure in my goal of the practice of medicine.

If you've read this far and are wondering from whence I acquired my stash, allow me to elaborate further. Pay attention to your work place and job: put yourself in your bosses shoes and ask 'What makes this business profitable/effective?'. Next ask yourself, 'What do I do that contributes to that profit/effectiveness'. If you think hard about it, it's likely that only 2 hours of your work day ACTUALLY accomplishes anything that's truly useful for the business. Now turn your mind to your undergraduate studies and the last exam you studied for. Think about how much you've studied that was 1-) Not applicable to what you now practice and 2-) Never assessed in any exam. Now think about how much time you wasted fretting over it......sigh. (I got an HD for my paper on has yet to help me in the practice of nursing or medicine)

One of the reasons that I seemed to do relatively well in my medical school exams was the recognition of this principle. When faced with Harrisons, Guyton, Boron, Rang and Dales and Robbins (enough books to break the sturdiest spine!) for the upcoming cardiology exam, I knew fully well that the male reproductive system would play a small role in my preparation, ergot I ommited it. I then continued this principle of hacking and culling study material until I distilled only what was LIKELY to be in the exam. I then studied this material extensively. When it comes to exams, it's far better to know intimately the 10% of the text book that is examinable rather than to know poorly all of the text book where 90% of it will not be examined.

That is not to say for a second that I don't condone reading extensively and exhaustively! After all, medical school will train you to learn for the rest of your life. But consider this:
-The purpose of medical school is to educate, the goal is to become educated (AKA read hard).
-The purpose of exams is to to detroy one's soul, the goal is to pass them first time (AKA read smart).

The GAMSAT is no different. 20% of what your efforts will be responsible for 80% of your achievement on exam day. So when you're compiling exhaustive lists of reading material and gruelling study regimes that last 6 months and cannot reasonably be followed, I implore you to work smarter, not harder. Don't destroy your soul over the GAMSAT, your super-human efforts will be poor consolation if you don't get the score you were after.

Rather, look at your study program, then look at the ACER question set: work out what 20% of your program is going to improve your performance (for me it was a select few chapters of text book and problem solving activities combined with perfecting EXCELLENT exam technique). Once you've identified that 20%, do MORE of it. This won't ever achieve 100% efficieny, but it will get you closer than you were before. In the GAMSAT, this WILL improve your (score even if that only brings your score from a 30 to a 40).

Remeber the GAMSAT exists primarily as a discriminant tool. Your goal is to get INTO medical school. The GAMSAT's goal is to keep 80% of you out. Hence all of your preparation needs to be directed towards studying the EXAM and not to studying SCIENCE in general.

So good luck to y'all! Feel free to check out our book Reasoning for the GAMSAT here. It's available for purchase as an eBook for $9.95 AUD. Also, feel free to email me about any GAMSAT topics you'd like me to cover on this blog or future eBooks and I'll be more than happy to help out!

Bye folks!

Thursday, 2 August 2012

The GAMSAT Lectures

Hi y'all The GAMSAT Lectures are coming this September at Flinders University. This set of 3 short courses  focusses on each of sections I, II & III. We start with a brief didactic session on what the section is testing and how to make the most out of it. This is then followed by an intensive group work session giving you the opportunity to practice answering the ACER questions under the guidance and assistance of successful GAMSAT candidates.

It's a great opportunity to
1-) Pick the brains of those who have sat and passed the exam previously
2-) To focus on improving a sectional weakness (since most people do better in 1 or 2 sections)
3-) To kick start your prep in a quick, convenient and cost effective fashion
4-) To meet some of the other candidates who will sit along side you on test day

The sessions will be held at Flinders University
from 5pm-7pm
September 6th- Section I
September 13th- Section II
September 20th- Section III

For those of you who follow us from other states (particularly Queensland and Victoria, there seems to be a LOT of you), we'd like to start bringing our training to you instead of expecting you to come to us. If you're interested in attending, get in touch with me at david dot hooper at emergencyone dot com dot au. If we book more than 10 candidates in each state, we'll bring the road show to you!