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Maximising Study Time: How are Busy Doctors Preparing for MRCP Part 1?

The MRCP(UK) Part 1 exam is quite challenging and requires thorough preparation, especially for busy doctors with limited time to study. However, with proper planning and time management, creating a study schedule that works for you is possible. Let’s find out how:

1. Assess Your Availability

The first step in creating a study schedule is to assess your availability. Look at your weekly work schedule and identify the times when you are free. It could be an hour in the morning, during lunch breaks, or in the evening after work. Allocate a specific time slot for studying each day that fits into your schedule. Do not miss out on unidentified time blocks like travelling, where you could easily replace mindless entertainment with consciously crafted YouTube videos for revisions. Check out some latest podcasts to listen to during your "I'm tired but I’ve to travel time". Better yet, you could use the audio-only feature of YouTube videos if you're feeling particularly exhausted!

2. Set Realistic Goals

Setting realistic goals is crucial when creating a study schedule. It is important to set achievable targets for each day, such as covering a specific topic or completing a set number of questions. Be realistic about how much time you can commit to studying each day to avoid burnout. You can analyse your previous study sessions to figure out a particular minimum number of MCQs you can easily study during a set period.

3. Choose Your Study Materials Wisely

Planning which study materials to use is an important step in creating a study schedule. Choose the most effective study materials that suit your learning styles, such as textbooks, online resources, and question banks. Allocate time for each topic ensuring you cover all the essential areas of the exam syllabus. Get away from the habit of mindlessly downloading free Internet junk which you’re likely to never revisit. Rather, invest wisely in a well-thought-out course that helps you achieve your goals with minimum effort from your side, saving you time and money from re-sitting the exam.

4. Prioritising the Topics

Prioritising the topics based on their importance and the amount of time you have left to prepare for the exam is essential. It is important to focus on the areas where you need the most improvement, but make sure that you cover all the essential topics to increase your chances of success. Now we all know very well which are our weak areas, but we shy away from them because of our self-created mind blocks which tell us that a particular topic is difficult and other such fancy stories, which in reality are just our mind-playing games with us, keeping us away from success.

5. Use Productivity Techniques

Using productivity techniques can help you make the most of your study time. Techniques such as the Pomodoro technique, where you work in intervals of 25 minutes with short breaks in between, can help you stay focused and avoid burnout. This technique helps to improve productivity and ensures that you get the most out of your study time. Also, a short but effective study session is way better than hours of casual browsing through the book or the internet.

6. Join a Study Group

Joining a study group can be an effective way to stay motivated and get support from other candidates who are preparing for the exam. It helps to discuss complex topics with others and get their perspectives, which can help you understand them better. It gives you perspective. You will quickly realise that all your peer group members are faced with equally challenging situations which are unique to them, and how they overcome them daily to stay motivated.

7. Self-Love

Everyone in Healthcare is so busy taking care of someone else, they forget about the “Only place you have to live in: your body”. It is okay to feel burnt out and mentally overwhelmed, especially after the restructuring of Healthcare post Covid-19. Not only taking breaks and practising self-care is essential for busy doctors, but you may want to talk to a Specialist or your Supervisor if you’re facing challenges physically or mentally. Ensure that you take regular breaks to avoid burnout and maintain focus. Long working and waking hours have made our bodies forget our natural circadian rhythm. Learn about sleep schedule and sleep hygiene. Using certain mobile apps to help you fall asleep with the help of guided meditation or music is an excellent starting point. Dear fellow doctors, we urge you to take care of your physical and mental health by getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet (sometimes just eating on time can be so difficult for us) & exercising regularly.

Creating a study schedule for MRCP Part 1 and following it can be challenging for busy doctors. However, by assessing your availability, setting realistic goals, prioritising the topics, and using productivity techniques, you can create a customised schedule that works for you. Remember to take breaks and practice self-care, and don't forget to join a study group for support and motivation.

Good luck with your exam preparation!

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