‘It was about midnight on a Friday when I found out. I was sitting in my car at the end of an evening shift.
‘The hospital I am currently based at has very poor phone reception so I hadn’t seen any notifications throughout the day, but I pulled out my phone and buried in the rush of new email was one from ACEM letting me know,’ Daniel says.
He says it was a pleasant surprise.
‘I thought I had done well enough to pass the exam on the day, but I never expected to win this prize, so it was a nice way to end the primaries.’
Daniel was in the final candidate group on the day of his exam and found the two-hour wait in the quarantine room before he began his circuit to be one of the most challenging aspects.
‘The actual stations themselves went by in a blur, which for me was one of the surprises. By the end of my revision period I found I could generally complete the questions with a few minutes to spare whereas on the day I needed the full amount of time for pretty much every station.’
He says preparation was key.
‘The most helpful thing I found in preparing for the exams was just going over lots of practice vivas.
‘I felt I had accumulated most of the knowledge needed in studying for the written and then revising for the viva was more about learning to package that knowledge in a clear way and under time pressure.’
Daniel also relied on his networks – personal and professional – to ensure he was as prepared as possible.
‘I roped friends, fellow trainees and my partner into going over the practice vivas with me and found that changing who was asking questions to be helpful.
‘My advice to other trainees is to practice with multiple different people. You can get used to different reactions and styles of asking questions.’
He says FACEMs at his hospital were great to practice with.
‘They were really helpful and ran lots of practice vivas for the four of us (at that site) sitting the exam.’
He suggests combining practice with ‘going for a coffee/out to the pub/the beach’.
‘It’s a good way to relax and catch-up during what can otherwise be a pretty stressful time.’
Daniel homed in on his weaknesses and also recommends dedicating time to them.
‘Try to know what you are not so good at or what might catch you out on the day. For meit was pictures of anatomy prosecutions, so I dedicated extra time to studying them, including ones that hadn’t come up in the past.’
Next up Daniel is preparing to undertake a six-month rural anaesthetic term.
‘It will be a big change, but I’m looking forward to some exam-free years.’
Joseph Epstein Prize