Managing a consultation around the patient is a key aspect of the NHS. Since my knowledge and experience about patient-centred consultations were limited, I knew I had to join an academy for appropriate teaching.
I began my research on PLAB 2 academies in August and I talked to friends who were enrolled in different academies. It was around the same time I came across Dr Arora’s PLAB 2 videos on YouTube. I had read the guidance on the GMC website and the examiners’ top tips on passing PLAB 2 and I understood that they are primarily looking for safe FY2-level doctors who can manage consultations holistically. Dr Arora’s videos made a lot of sense since he focused a lot on interpersonal skills and all issues faced by the patient – not just the medical issues.
At that point I decided to join the full Arora Academy+ package. Due to some Visa processing issues I had to join the academy online through livestream. Initially I was apprehensive about attending the full course online as I had heard a lot of my friends mention that we had to attend academies in person for best results. However looking back, I’m so glad that I proceeded with my plan nonetheless.
Before the 10 day live teaching started I had already gone through a lot of the package material. Dr Arora had also sent a ‘pre academy’ 10 day programme to everyone highlighting certain areas of the material to go through in advance – which got me ready to make full value of the live sessions.
In particular I watched the main online video course which gave me a general idea of the approach to multiple different case types. They were very detailed and I could watch them multiple times. I also went through the audio courses – especially focusing on the ones that explained different medical conditions to patients. This helped me gauge exactly how to communicate with patients. The flashcards helped a lot for retaining all the information and were incredibly beneficial for last minute revision!
The live academy course commenced in September, with me still having concerns about not being able to attend it in person. Dr Arora and Dr Pooja however always kept us on track throughout the 10 days, constantly asking us questions through the live class chat and always ensuring that any queries were clarified. We could all also ask any doubts regarding the different role-plays that were running in class – and these were answered by all tutors on the team.
Even the ‘special’ scenarios were thought of for livestream attendees – for example there was a half day prescribing session as part of the academy programme and all livestream attendees were sent PDFs for various drug charts to print in advance and use during the case scenarios.
We were all part of the batch WhatsApp group as well which helped us feel part of the main group.
The only real difference that I found between in-person and online classes was that I was unable to perform the role plays myself – something that in my opinion did not make much difference as a) I learned a lot by watching and b) I knew I had my mocks still to come!