Are you getting ready for one of the last hurdles before your foundation year? We speak to Martin Ferguson, co-founder of SJT Preparation – a course helping final year students achieve their best possible results in the SJT.
What prompted you to set up SJT Preparation?
SJT Preparation was an idea supported by a group of final year medical students who felt there was little formal guidance in the area. There was a lot of concern regarding the format of the test and what one could do as a student to get ready, given the fact that it accounted for half of the overall UKFPO mark against which students are ranked and subsequent allocation of jobs.
What were the team's experiences of the SJT as students?
There is a risk of spending far too much time preparing for the test and this is something of which students should be wary. Getting a balance between fulfilling clinical commitments, preparing for finals and getting ready for the SJT is the key, and something we place great importance on when working with students. Our course is designed to be both comprehensive, and concise.
What sets SJT Preparation apart from similar courses?
We place a large focus on a programme designed by, and taught by, junior doctors who have recently been through the process and who practise in competitive training programmes around the UK.
We build on peer-to-peer feedback each year, which greatly strengthens our content and keeps it as beneficial and up to date as it can be. We engage in open, supportive discussions with students who attend our events and learn from them to understand specifically what they need help with individually.
Last year we added in an extremely useful medico-legal session presented by MDU experts. This is unique to SJT Preparation's course and gives context to the focus on real-life scenarios within the SJT.
What do you think students find most difficult when preparing for and sitting the SJT?
In the final academic medical school year where students have at the very minimum finals, prescribing skills exams, preparation for practice, electives, and the added stress of starting a new job at the end of it, adding the SJT with its considerable weight can be a huge pressure.
Many students find the hardest part to be balancing all the different elements, having never had experience of them before. Almost universally, they handle the pressure remarkably well and will look back with satisfaction at one of the most challenging years a student can face.
What one piece of reassurance would you give students coming up to their SJT?
Recall how good doctors handled challenging situations throughout your experience of medical school – be it in GP surgeries, ward rounds, theatre or community settings, and use what you have learnt to help your decision-making under pressure in the test.
Remember, it's not an assessment of medical knowledge, but rather a test of how you should respond in difficult real-life scenarios.
Do you have any tips or tricks on how best to prepare for the test?
Providing students have spent the necessary time in clinical practice and are able to relate the lessons learnt to core GMC guidance on good practice and professionalism, they are well placed to perform well.
For students looking for extra help fine-tuning what they have learnt and understanding how to prepare for and perform in the test when under pressure, coming to one of our events will help. We look forward to meeting with them and helping them there.
For all final year students who read this – remember you have spent years training for this, and we wish you every success in your future career.
SJT Preparation courses take place across the UK in October and November. MDU members benefit from a discounted rate for the one-day course. Find out more and sign up here.
For more information and a detailed timeline for the national application process for FP and AFP 2018, visit the MDU website.