When I first heard that there is an In-Training Exam, I was a little scared. The fact that I started a fellowship in a very new field, which is quite different from the bread and butter medicine cases I was used to, made me feel a little nervous.
The question then became, do I study something for it? If yes, then what do I read? I asked my other senior fellows for their opinions and received different suggestions. Finally I decided to go ahead with the exam without any special preparation and see how much Oncology I know so far, just to gauge myself.
The day of the exam was just like the medicine boards on a computer with multiple blocks and breaks in between.
I was expecting very tough questions with very few that I would know. To my surprise, the questions were not like any other exam questions but very close to our clinical practice. I would read a question and think - Oh, this is just like the patient I saw the other day or this is just like the case presented at the conference.
My knowledge at this time was limited but I walked out of the exam with a very good feeling of the fact that I am actually learning quite a lot of things in my training.
I was very happy with my decision to take the exam without preparation, which actually helped me realize that Oncology is a field of learning by practice. The more you see and discuss, the more you learn, much more than books can teach.
With this experience I encourage every current fellow and to-be-fellows to take the exam, not to score high but to realize that all of us learn no matter where we are - University or Community Hospitals.
1st year Fellow
Div of Hematology-Oncology
John H Stroger Jr Hospital of Cook County