This is a post about oPortfolio - a project that Meducation and Podmedics are collaborating on. We have a Kickstarter project and would love your support!
Students? Junior Doctors? Senior Doctors?
Over the last two days we've been asked by lots of people who oPortfolio is for. Some people want it for students, others to replace junior doctor systems, and some for revalidation purposes. The simple answer is that it's for everyone going through their medical careers from student to consultant and on to retirement.
There are two challenges to building a system that's relevant for such a wide variety of people. The first is to make something that has all the features that are needed for all the people. We are strong believers in self-directed learning and want that to be at the core of oPortfolio. We want people to be able to build their own personal portfolios, keeping a log of everything they want to - their own personal space for reflection and learning. oPortfolio should be something that you find useful at all stages, and that's crucial to our vision.
The second challenge is working with existing ePortfolio systems, and to have functionality that deaneries and Colleges need to adopt our platform if they want to. Making a system that is incompatible with existing systems, or that involves doctors still having to use other horrible software defies the whole point of what we're doing. If a user's oPortfolio has to be manually copied & pasted into another system, everyone loses out. This, therefore, also has to be a large consideration as we move forwards.
At all times, we will have to balance these two challenges up against each other.
oPortfolio is for everyone. It certainly won't have all the features that everyone needs from day one, but our aim is to build a solid base everyone can use, and then expand it from there. With regards to who we give our initial focus to, it will be the people who support us on Kickstarter. They are showing genuine support for what we're doing, and therefore deserve to be prioritised. That only seems fair.
Please support us today. Thank you.
1. Sleep (I realize I’m posting this at 12:30 am…)
I know there’s a popular perception of sleep deprivation going hand in hand with working hard or succeeding academically. However, that is only true if you’re working very last minute, and don’t care about retaining the information–you basically just want to get through your upcoming test/assignment. I would like to clarify that, although learning about 10 months of material in 2 weeks is overwhelming, it is NOT last minute because whatever you’re working on right now, you’ll have to remember in 2 weeks for your exam. Besides the exam, if you’re studying medicine, you need to remember most of these things for the rest of your life.
In order to retain that information, you need to stay alert, well rested and motivated. Prolonged sleep deprivation can make you feel very ‘CBA’ very fast.
2. Stay Energized
Sleep is only one factor in staying motivated and alert; another is staying energized¬–in a healthy way. Simply put: if you feel well, you’ll work well.
difficult, I know, when you’ve got so little time to spare; but as much as you can, try to eat more whole foods (aka things that don’t come in wrappers or have their own commercial) and keep a balanced diet (too much of anything is usually not good). Everyone snacks while they’re doing exams, but try to find a vice that won’t put you in a sugar coma (some good examples include berries and other fruits, nuts, carrots with hummus to dip in, granola bars, etc).
Note: drinking tea is also an excellent way to stay energized!
Again, I know something like this is difficult to keep up in normal everyday life, let alone during exam stress. Even if it is just for 15-20 minutes, some cardio (note: the more strenuous the workout in a short period of time, the more benefit you’ll get) is a fantastic ‘eye-opener’ (I learned that phrase while learning how to take an alcohol history and now I really like it)! No one wants to go for a run in the morning, but after you get past the first 2-3 minutes of wanting to collapse, your body starts to feel really grateful. This is the BEST way to stimulate your senses and wake yourself up. I promise it’s better than any energy drink or cup of coffee you could have.
Take small breaks: SMALL breaks!!! About 10 minutes. Every once in a while, you need to get up and walk around to give yourself a break, have some fresh air, grab a snack, but try not to get carried away; try to avoid having a short attention span.
3. Make Lists
I cannot stress enough how counterproductive it is to overwhelm yourself with the amount of work you have. Whether you think about it or not, that pile is not going anywhere. Thinking about it won’t wish it away. Stop psyching yourself out and just get on with it– step by step.
Making a list of objectives you need to accomplish that day or week is a great way to start; then, cross them out as you go along (such a satisfying feeling). Being able to visualize your progress will be a great motivator.
Remember: it is important to be systematic with your studying approach; if you jump around between modules because they’re boring you’re just going to confuse yourself and make it hard to remember things when that exam comes
Note: I have a white board in my room where I write my objectives for the week. Some days it motivates, some days it I want to throw it out the window (but I can't reach the latch)…
4. Practice Questions
Practice questions are excellent for monitoring your progress; they’re also excellent at scaring you. Do not fear! This is a good thing, because now you know what you’re missing, go back and read up on what you forgot to take a look at, and come back and do the questions later. Then give yourself a sticker for getting it right ? Practice questions are also great for last minute studying too because they can help you do what I call “backwards studying”–which is what I just described: figuring out what you need to learn based on what the questions look like.
5. Be realistic
Set realistic goals for yourself; most importantly, set realistic daily goals for yourself so that when you get all or most or even some of them done you can go to sleep with a level of satisfaction. Also, you need to pick your battles. Example: if you suck at neuro, then one module’s loss is another’s gain. Don’t spend too much time trying to get through one thing, just keep moving forward, and come back to it later
6. ‘Do not disturb’
Facebook, twitter, instagram, youtube, whatsapp, texting, pinterest, meme websites, so many fantastic ways to kill your time… Do yourself a favor, save them for your breaks. If someone is dying or on fire, they will most likely call you, not text you or write on your wall; you do not need to check your phone that often unless you're expecting something time sensitive.
Everyone studying in your program is going to be stressed about things; do NOT let it rub off on you. You know those moments when you hear a peer or a prof/tutor describing something you have never even heard of, then you start panicking? Yeah, don’t do that. It happens to everyone. Instead of worrying so much, just go read about it! Simple solution right? What else are you going to do? Plus, a lot of the time other students seem to know more than they need to about certain things (which I can tell you right now, doesn’t always mean they’re doing better than you; knowing random, very specific factoids doesn’t mean they can bring it in clinic. Everyone can pull a Hermione and know a book inside out, but this is not necessarily the hallmark of a good doctor), what’s it to you? Worry about yourself, be confident in your abilities, and don’t trouble yourself with comparing to other people
8.Practice for Practicals
Everyone is afraid of practical exams, like the OSCE (at any rest station you're likely to find me with my head in my hands trying to stabilize my breathing pattern and trying not to cry). The best way to be ready is to practice and practice and practice and practice. It’s like learning to drive a car. At first you’re too aware of your foot on the gas, the position of your hand on the wheel, etc; but, after driving for a little while, these things become subconscious. In the same way, when you walk into a station, you could be so worried about how you’ll do your introduction and gain consent, and remembering to wash your hands, and getting equipment and and and and and; the anxiety affects your confidence and your competence. If you practice enough, then no matter what they throw at you, you will get most of the points because the process will be second nature to you.
Practice on your roommates, friends, family members, patients with a doctor's help...when appropriate... Even your stuffed animals if you're really desperate.
DO NOT leave practicing for these practicals to the last minute; and if you do, make sure you go through every thing over and over again until you’re explaining examinations in your sleep.
NOTE: When I'm practicing for OSCE alone, I record myself over and over again and play it back to myself and criticize it, and then practice againn.
You don’t necessarily have to study in the same place every day; however, it is always good to have some level of routine. Some examples include: waking up/sleeping at the same time everyday, going for a run at the same time every day, having the same study routine, etc. Repetition is a good way to keep your brain focused on new activities because, like I said before, the more you repeat things, the more they become second nature to you.
Hope these tips are of some use to you; if not, feel free to sound off in the comments some alternate ways to get through exams. Remember that while exams are stressful, this is the time where you build your character and find out what you’re truly capable of. When you drop your pen after that final exam, you want to feel satisfied and relieved, not regretful.
Happy Studying ?
After I retired from my academic position at the University of Miami, I started working as an intermittent ob & gyn in various cultural settings in the US and abroad. In 2006 I practiced in a hospital in New Zealand.
I saw many interesting cases during my six months at Whangarei Hospital. One stands out in particular. This was a middle aged native Mauri woman who had been seeing her family doctor for several years because she was gaining too much weight, her abdomen was getting bigger, and she was constipated. Each time the family doctor saw her, he did not examine her but patted her on the back and encouraged her to eat less, eat more fruit and vegetables and be more active so that she would lose weight. When much later he finally examined her, he noticed a large tumor in her abdomen and referred her to the hospital.
To make a long story short, we operated on her and removed a large ovarian cyst weighing more than 18 kilograms (about 40 pounds). This cyst fortunately turned out to be benign and the woman did well. The operation itself was something else as we needed an extra assistant to hold the tumor in her arms while we removed it without breaking it.
Even though this large tumor was certainly not a record, we ended up publishing the case in a New Zealaned medical journal for family practice (see reference below), not so much for the nature of the tumor itself as for pointing out to family doctors (all doctors, in fact) that examining patients before giving them advice is most important.
Alison Gale, Tommy Cobb, Robert Norelli, William LeMaire. Increasing Abdominal Girth. The Importance of Clinical Examination. New Zealand Family Physician. 2006; 33 (4): 250-252
The relationship between patients and doctors has long been based on face-to-face communication and complete confidentiality. Whilst these fundamentals still absolutely remain, the channels of communication across all sectors have changed monumentally, with social media at the forefront of these changes.
Increasingly patients are taking to the Internet to find recommendations for healthcare professionals and to self-diagnose. By having an online presence your business can positively influence these conversations – engaging with the public and colleagues both locally and globally and can facilitate public access to accurate health information. The reality is social media is here to stay, so in 2014 why not make it your resolution to become part of the conversation.
To get you started and so that social media isn’t seen as such a daunting place, SocialB are providing a free eBook containing lots of fantastic advice on how to use social media within the healthcare sector ‘Twitter for Healthcare Professionals’ please visit http://www.socialmedia-trainingcourses.com/top-10-twitter-tips-ebook/ to receive your free copy.
Here are 5 top tips on using social media in 2014:
1. Decide on your online image and adhere to it
Decide how you would like to be portrayed professionally and apply this to your online presence. Create a tone of voice and a company image – in line with your branding and values – and stick to it.
2. Be approachable, whilst maintain professional boundaries
Connecting with patients via social media can help to ease their concerns and develop a certain rapport or trust with you prior to their consultation. However, this must remain professional at all times, and individual advice should not be given. The general rule is that personal ‘friend requests’ should not be accepted; connection over corporate pages and accounts is encouraged to maintain a traditional doctor-patient relationship.
3. Contribute your knowledge, experience and industry information
Social media is a fantastic way to launch an online marketing campaign. Interaction with your patients and potential clients via social networks is an inexpensive way to engage with, and learn from your audience.
As a healthcare professional, you will inevitably take part in conferences, training days and possibly new research. Social media allows you to share your knowledge, enabling your market to be better informed about you and your work.
4. Treat others how you wish to be treated
By engaging with other means that they are more likely to take notice of, and share, your social media updates. Sharing is key and it is this action that will substantially grow your audiences. Maintain your professionalism and pre-agreed tone of voice whilst communicating with others. Make it easy for peers and patients to recommend your level of skill and service, and ensure you recommend fellow healthcare professionals for the same reasons.
5. Consider your audience
Whilst you may be astute at targeting a particular audience as a result of careful market research, always be aware who else can see your online presence. Governing bodies, competitors and the press are just a few examples. Whilst social media tends to be a more informal platform, by following the above points will ensure your professional reputation is upheld.
Thank you Katy Sutherland at SocialB for providing this blog post.