There are many things in life that we often take for granted. We only learn to appreciate them after we lost them or came close to losing them. For me, Stage 4 is exactly one of those things.
After I apparently passed Stage 3 of MBBS on 31 July 2017, progression to Stage 4 just felt like the natural next step. At that time, I considered Stage 4 to be just another year in MBBS. I didn't have very positive thoughts about Stage 4, due to the fact that I had heard many students describing Stage 4 as very difficult.
What I had never expected to happen was that on 4 September 2017 which was supposedly the first day of Stage 4, NUMed declared the results of the Stage 3 written examination invalid due to a 'security breach' and required all students to resit the written examination on 14 and 15 September 2017. (Read about the whole incident here: http://daniellimjj.blogspot.com/2017/09/4-september-2017-incident.html )
This incident nearly took away my opportunity to be in Stage 4. I had to put in so much effort to do the seemingly impossible task of revising the entire Stage 3 curriculum in such a short time frame of 10 days. Finally on 18 September 2017, I was able to pass the resit examination and officially proceed to Stage 4 of MBBS.
After going through the whole ordeal, it made me value Stage 4 so much more. Indeed, I wouldn't have realised the significance of being in Stage 4 without the experience of nearly losing it. Even though Stage 4 is difficult, I was grateful of the fact that I was in Stage 4 and I truly embraced it. Therefore, I definitely wanted to make the most out of Stage 4 which I valued so much.
Here’s how I made the most out of Stage 4:
1st - Doing the Student Selected Component 3 (SSC3) in UK
NUMed students can choose to do the SSC3 during Stage 4 either in UK or in Malaysia. In the past, I was reluctant to do the SSC3 in UK, because my family kept pushing me to go to UK, but they couldn't give a good reason to justify that. I don't like it when my family tell me what to do, because I want to have the autonomy to decide for myself. The more they tried to push me, the less willing I was to go to UK. Over time, my family realised that it would just be futile to keep pushing me on going to UK, so they softened their stance.
With that, I started considering the possibility of doing the SSC3 in UK. Later, I found out that many of my friends were planning to do the SSC3 in UK. This made the idea of going to UK more attractive. The greatest turning point was the incident where I had to resit the Stage 3 written examination, which changed my perspectives on this. Since I wanted to make the most out of Stage 4, I felt that I should go to UK for SSC3, which would give me valuable experience.
In Stage 3, most of the teaching was carried out at clinical sites and there were lectures only on certain days, but the lectures on those days were really long. Consequently, I didn't like attending lectures back then. I preferred to skip the lectures and read the lecture notes myself instead. However, all lectures in Stage 3 were compulsory so I had no choice but to attend them. As I attended the lectures unwillingly, I often did not focus well during the lectures and I even fell asleep on a few occasions.
In Stage 4, there were many lectures every day, and the timetable was very packed because the start date of Stage 4 was delayed due to the Stage 3 resit examination. Unlike Stage 3, most lectures in Stage 4 were not compulsory. It was common for students to skip the lectures on Patients, Doctors and Society (PDS). However, due to my desire in making the most out of Stage 4, I was much more enthusiastic in Stage 4. As a result, I made it a point to always attend all lectures including PDS lectures, and to pay good attention during the lectures.
3rd - Having a good relationship with my friends in Group 4
For Stage 4, I was allocated to Group 4. This group allocation was largely based on the grouping for the Stage 3 Hospital Based Weeks previously, although there were a bit of changes. Most of my group mates in Group 4 were previously my group mates in Hospital Based Group (HBG) B1. I was lucky enough to not get excluded from this group like what happened with my Stage 3 Essential Junior Rotations grouping. I could reunite with most of my friends in HBG B1, so I was quite happy to be in Group 4. Therefore, I definitely did my part to form and maintain a good relationship with every one in Group 4.
4th - Engaging well in every Case-based Group Work session
There were Case-based Group Work sessions every week in Stage 4. These sessions are a unique feature of Stage 4 as the other years of the MBBS course do not have such sessions. The Case-based Group Work sessions are essentially like the Problem Based Learning (PBL) sessions in other medical schools. During each session, I and my group mates were presented with clinical cases where we had to discuss and work together to come out with the answers for the questions in the case. I found these sessions really interesting and I always got myself well involved in the sessions.
5th - Aiming for a score of 75% in the Stage 4 written examination
I scored 75% for the Stage 3 resit examination in September 2017. This was my highest score yet since the Stage 1 Progress 2 examination in January 2015, so I was really happy with my performance. Therefore, I wanted to maintain the same level of performance for the Stage 4 written examination in December 2017. I believed that the key to achieving this aim is early preparation, which was why I had started my revision for the Stage 4 examination in late September 2017. I also made sure to avoid the same mistakes that contributed to my failure in the FoCP written examination, LTC MOSLER and WH MOSLER during Stage 3.