I am grateful this has ended in praise and I can write about it but then it was certainly overwhelming.
I arrived Nigeria on the 2nd of September 2018 after leaving Ukraine on the first. But the struggle coming back to Nigeria was real.
I had planned from my 5th year in medical school to find greener pasture in another country and all plan was set. But my dad brought up the idea of being certified home and abroad after which I could travel wherever I wanted.
The struggle to convince him was real. He insisted not knowing my fear was the MDCN exam. The pass rate of previous year was low (I’m talking about the 2017 November set in Ilorin).
After it all, I agreed to come home, but I intentionally delayed my return so I wouldn’t be writing the October exam but my dad immediately suggested that I start tutorials as soon as I got back to Nigeria.
“Daddy, no, don’t want to waste the 135k you’re going to pay”.
He argued, “You will pass, don’t worry. Just try it shey I’m the one paying”, but I refused, and opted for writing the one in April.
“Daddy, I prefer to put in everything possible, I mean my possible best, instead of rushing to write the exam.”
But another part of my heart reasoned; “Gloria…time isn’t on your side”.
So from September to December, I was on a tour mode. Attended weddings, conferences, and what have you…
MY FEARS BEFORE EXAM PREP
The result for the October exam came out and my heart was literally on a horse race, as if I had written the exam.
At first, I was happy because a good number of people had passed the exam, and I was secretly wishing I had written then, only to be hit with mixed feelings later on.
Several others who were very intelligent didn’t make the pass list and I couldn’t help but be worried about what had gone wrong. I became scared for myself.
Then the choice about where or how to prepare for the exam began; a tutorial, personal reading, or hospital attachment?
Later on though, I was encouraged by a friend who had been in a tutorial and left for another, encouraged me to join. So yeah…with my intuition from telegram dealings, and his recommendations, I decided to join the Acemedix tutorial in Abuja.
TUTORIALS AND STUDY GROUPS
On Wednesday, January 7th I traveled to join the tutorials. Getting to Abuja, motion sickness welcomed me.
“Ohh…it will resolve in a few days”, I assumed, but it didn’t. Instead, it got worse.
My dad had paid for accommodation instead of staying with him so I could indeed study with those preparing for the exams but it didn’t work out. Also, his house was quite a distance so I eventually had to stay with my married cousin.
Classes were a nightmare for me. I couldn’t get the bearing to anything. It seemed the topics were quite different from what I had learned in medical school. Clerking was so difficult. My fears heightened.
“Will I be able to pass this exam?”
I was haunted by what my friend earlier told me she said “People are waiting for you in Ukraine”.She said one of our juniors told her if Gloria fails,she would fall hands “.
You can imagine how haunting that statement could be.
All I was reading, I couldn’t recollect.
I remember my Teacher asking me a simple question in class. He asked me to give spot diagnosis of a picture of a big baby in a class of more than 100 students. I didn’t know the answer. I looked up and down.
“Big baby”, came to my mind, but I thought to myself, “You’re just about to disgrace yourself here”. Too big for gestation came but I couldn’t say it.
It was later he asked the class and they chorused, “Macrosomia”.
I felt like crying but comported myself. Then the torment came again…
“Kai Gloria they will think you don’t know anything.” My self-esteem was bruised for the following weeks. My health deteriorating psychologically.
STRUGGLING WITH DEPRESSION
I didn’t know how I made it to and from the tutorial class with public transport whenever my cousin couldn’t drop me or pick me. It was an alternating pattern. There were a few days though when I was a little close to normal.
Out of growing concern my cousin took me to the hospital. The clerking session…oh noo….
I felt like crying even more. My answers immediately brought a diagnosis. Depression, so I was placed on amitriptyline to be taken over the next month.
I started the meds but there was little to no improvement. I had shut out my other life. I had stopped blogging, was inactive on all forms of social media, WhatsApp included.
Then came another struggle it was time to register for the exam and my EPIC account started acting up.
I couldn’t log in. At a point was literally banned from the account!
What have I done exactly? I started asking for forgiveness of sins. It was then a debt crept up and I pondered; “How did I get myself into this?”
I couldn’t eat and had lost almost 5kg in 2 weeks…I also stopped taking the drug as there was no improvement.
“Will I ever survive this”, I thought. “God, please forgive me…forgiveness is all I ask for.”
It was a torment. I completely lost myself…My past sins which were forgiven kept haunting me and I felt was God still angry with me. I just couldn’t place it. I couldn’t even write in my diary.
Writing is therapeutic for me, besides being a means of penning down ideas. But I couldn’t even write. For about a month. My diary was plain and empty. My relationship with God strained and I just couldn’t help but wonder where I had gone wrong.
I couldn’t read my bible, it was just muttering things to God telling Him to intervene.
And then suddenly there was an improvement. I started remembering things I had read, my dysfunctional account was restored and registered for the exam. Things started looking up.
This all happened in March when my exam was supposed to be in April, but still the fear of failing the exams never completely left.
“That means you will rewrite in October again. A year wasted. Your father’s money wasted, the stress and all wasted.” The fears drove me to my books each time. While asleep I’d jump up and pick up book amidst tears and pray to God for Him to help me.
GETTING INTO THE STUDY GROOVE
By the end of March, I had gained confidence and stability in class. I could now answer difficult questions, and I was no longer bending my head or hiding from questions from my teacher. I also had study groups. One which was basically for clerking and counseling with physical examination and another for reading the guide.
At this point, all hands were on deck, knowing fully well the exam was in April but the good news came it was going to be in May. Ohhh May…why so late.
It was with mixed feelings but my heart said, “Gloria that shift was because of you. January to early March seems wasted because you didn’t really gain much, now is the time for you to buckle up”.
My plan was to read the Guide a couple of times and be grounded with my clerking, physical examination, instrument, lab values…and all that was needed for the exam.
EXAM D DAY
And so it was time for the exam. My dad wanted to book my flight and settle me before traveling out of the country. But I told him to just credit my account and I would sort myself out. I said so because I didn’t want to use a flight.
I thought, “If you end up not making it you would have wasted a lot so why not just use the train with some of your friends to Kano.”
I also had to settle for a cheap hotel instead of the expensive ones so I can return his money and tell him sorry for not making you proud.
A week before I was to travel I was summoned by one of my seniors who also is a spiritual mentor and then I remembered I had not done what she had earlier advised me to do. She told me to take a walk around the National Hospital, to pray in my success by faith.
I immediately called my friend and reading partner that we both also fasted together in prep for the exams and we had that walk by faith.
Yeah, we traveled to Kano and prep was on high. “God, please favour us,” was our prayers.
It was the day of the exam. I and my friend had not gone to the center earlier on but had planned to go with another lady who was in our hotel but she left so early that day.
Getting to the exam center was a real commotion, we had even gone and settled in another before finally realized we were in the wrong place.
The exam started early. Immediately I logged in I asked to start with my picture test which I learned carried the higher mark. The goal was to finish off 300 questions in 2 hours as the time factor was the undoing of the set before mine. The time giving to them was rather short.
I went into the hall with that mindset; my experience for my final exams in medical school was fresh in my memory…I wasn’t going to be limited because of speed.
In 2 hours I was almost done with the question but I saw that I had almost an hour of the 3 hours allotted left. I had time to go over the questions and left none unanswered.
Afterwards people at my own center were smiling. The atmosphere actually wasn’t tense. I was grateful for the 1st day and hoped the second would be the same.
Phase Two:OSCE DAY.
After being dispatched in batches into different halls, the wait to when we’d be called in began. And while waiting, different questions started circulating.More than 20 of them.Which one was true we wouldn’t know.
Oh no!! We had to go revise what was in circulation again and again.
Although very tasking, it paid off. My batch was the last to be called in. I was stressed and dehydrated already.
We’re finally lined up and we entered our station, I had a test run and then my first station was a General Physical Examination.
My first station was General Physical examination which I completed in almost 3 minutes of the 5 minutes. I then started thinking about what might have forgotten and adding extras to it to buy time. The examiner just smiled and told me not to worry.
Okay, the next was a counseling station. (I’ll write out all the questions at the end).
It was the end of the exam and I was confident I had given it a good shot. I knew I had done more than 70 percent but I still had my reservations.
Over the next couple of days started I thinking about what I could have said but didn’t say. What I should have added but didn’t add and my fears were mounting.
“God…” I started praying, “…have mercy.”
I was in church on a Monday when the result came out. I hurried to check my number. I passed!! It was so surreal to me. As I stepped out of the church tears came out as my experience preparing for the exam passed by my memory in a flash.
I got home and lay on the floor rolling in appreciation.
He then reminded me of the promises. Each victory should rather draw me closer to Him. Monetary gift and helping whosever wants to write the exam in whatever capacity I’m able to.
And it starts now…
Journey with me as I write out things you need to know in preparation for the MDCN exam. Below are questions for the MDCN May 2019 exam.
Station 1) General physical examination
Station 2) Counsel a man on non pharmacological treatment of diabetic foot
Station 3) Thyroid examination
Station 4) Written Station Combined oral contraceptives. Indications, Contraindications, Side effects
Station 5) Levels of prevention cervical cancer
Station 6) Counsel a woman on the need to immunize her child
Station 7) Sources of water, types, water borne disease and prevention
Station 8) Antenatal booking
Station 9) A case and diagnosis Chronic liver disease with symptoms and other investigations to do
Station 10) Systemic review
You might want to read this Medical Induction Outfit.
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If you have questions you can write as a comment or send to firstname.lastname@example.org
BY Gloria Awolehin
Gloria is a Christian writer and blogger, drama minister and a medical doctor. She is presently having her Housemanship at the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital.She believes in practical Christian living and she is deeply interested in the youths and the female gender.