I’m sitting beside my 2 years old son who just fell asleep, while I ran fingers in his hair. I look at his innocent face and struggle to fight back tears in my eyes, as I try to recall the story he was telling me in his broken language just before falling asleep. There’s nothing as alienating as having a child come to you with excitement in their eyes, sharing a story with you, and realising after he’s done that you don’t remember a thing he told you about despite having laughed and expressed wonder about his tale. Because, your mind is stuck somewhere else.
I tuck him carefully in the blanket and walk to the next room where my 10 years old daughter is winding in her day. ‘Just one of the many people I will have disappointed if I fail the exam again tomorrow.’ (However, undoubtedly one of those that will still love and support me afterwards).
She smiles at me, ‘Good luck for your exam tomorrow mama, and try to sleep well!’ She hugs me tight and looks deep into my eyes, ‘You’ll be fine mommy, you’ll shine, you are a star, just don’t worry and try to relax’.
It wasn’t a failed pivot. It wasn’t the first time. It wasn’t a sudden change in life situation. It wasn’t bad advice that I blindly followed. In fact, it’s really hard to pin down what it was that was making to pass this exam so so hard for me. This was the second time I was going to sit for the OSCEs. Passing the written exam had become more painful instead of a joy after I had failed my first OSCE. To be fair, I really believe that the last time I wasn’t really prepared well enough and retrospectively speaking the concept of OSCEs was so new to me that I hardly was able to get my head around it.
Undoubtedly, it was different this time. I had begun to understand how things really work. That it was normal to be strung along with smiles and to string others along the same way, while deep inside you feel totally shattered. Those were some of the darkest times for me and the ones that created the greatest rift in my life.
I passed the exam the following morning. I was now the Member of Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (MRCOG), but I was numb. I wanted to feel happy and successful. I wanted to celebrate… but for what? Celebrate for all that I lost while yearning to gain this membership? Be happy to see the irreparable damages and the irreversible time that has gone past for good, never to return again?
It was in those days that I cultivated this idea of helping others achieve this success sooner than later. I knew I cannot walk for anyone else, but I could pave a way that might make their journey half as difficult as mine was. And then it was in the middle of one of those deep dark haunting nights that BeMRCOG was created. At that time OSCEs was a part of written exam. The result of OSCEs of the first batch was 100% and I can never forget those moments when I saw their names in the pass list. I cried, and cried, and cried… with happiness. I had finally felt the joy of success and accomplishment.
So, for the past 5 years, it seems that all I’ve been doing is hunting dreams for others. Sometimes, the hunt felt incredible, other times it left me drained and beaten. Every time I heard a “No”, I tried twice as hard. I never dreamt of riches and fame when I made the decision to start these courses. I dreamt of building a support system and guiding track for those who have trusted me through this journey. And this is precisely what brings a difference in my courses, my system and my approach towards my students. It’s much more than just a preparation for MRCOG.
As I write this background story today, I essentially want to bring your attention to something crucial. The written exam is just over a couple of days ago and most of you must be trying to have the well-deserved relaxing time after the backbreaking effort. But, I can hear the clock ticking…loud and clear. 3 weeks/ 21 days/ some 504 hours…golden hours before the results will be announced. Trust me, this is not yet time to relax. This is the time to prepare for OSCE, regardless of what you expect about the result. If you pass the written, trust me there would be no enough time to practice and prepare for OSCEs. There is nothing more disappointing and morale-breaking as failing in the OSCEs after have passed the written. You may think I’m exaggerating, ask someone else who has gone through this experience. (For more details on this you may wish to read my blog post ‘OSCE’)
So folks, make the best use of these golden hours and get into the gear for OSCEs right now. Don’t worry, you won’t need to cut off from the world again. OSCEs can be practiced just while carrying on your day to day activities, but you need to first have an understanding about the exam pattern. Just remember, the choices you are making today can change your tomorrow forever.
Working together for Success!!
Dr. Asma Naqi.