The second semester of university is almost over.
If you’re in the final year of your Pharmacy program you’re probably getting pretty nervous right about now.
The PEBC exam is coming up soon. (Pharmacy Examining Board of Canada)
It marks the end of being a student and the start of your career. You probably have huge expectations on you to pass. You may even have contracts for work to fulfill once you finish.
You have spend all that money on schooling and it comes down to one exam.
Am I making you more nervous?
Use that nervous energy to your advantage.
But don’t be like a deflating balloon veering off in a hundred directions.
You need purpose.
You need direction.
You need a destination to aim towards.
Use that nervous energy you’re feeling to get moving toward your goal of passing the PEBC exam (not just passing but excelling at it).
You need a plan…you need a study schedule
Unfortunately I can’t give you much personal advice about my personal study schedule for the PEBC. The reason being is I didn’t have one.
Its a major case of I wish I knew then what I know now.
My PEBC Exam Preparation
I went out of town to my sister’s house for a week (away from “distractions” aka my kids 🙂 and starting reading through my class notes.
I had all the handouts from class so I started reading them over. But I didn’t have a rhyme or reason to my approach. I just opened them up and started reading.
* I didn’t have a schedule. *
So I ended up spending way too much time on one topic, then having to rush through other topics just to get them crammed in by exam time.
For instance, going into the exam I knew a lot about asthma and inhalers, but less about anti-arrhythmics.
I didn’t get through a quarter of the “Therapeutics Choices” chapters that I wanted to, or should have.
By the way despite this, I did pass on my first attempt.
But I’m not recommending my approach to anyone. See further below for how I should have approached the exam.
For me personally the written part of the exam (MCQ) was a bit harder than I was expecting, and the in-person counselling part (the OSCE) was easier. I went into the exam expecting it to be the other way around. But everyone is different.
What I should have done to study for the PEBC exam
So I’ve explained how I studied for it, but here I’ll go over it with my “hindsight is 20/20” glasses and make improvements to my exam preparation.
First thing would have been to start studying further in advance.
I like the analogy of remembering something is like a jungle trail: the more you access and use that memory the more worn down and established it becomes just a like a pathway through the brush.
I should have created a study schedule. Scheduling things and writing them down makes you accountable. Makes you obliged to get them down.
- I would have wrote down all the major therapeutic topics that we covered in school (e.g. Dermatology, Respiratory, Cardiovascular, Metabolic (like Diabetes), Infectious diseases, Psychiatry, etc…)
- Then for each major topic I would have listed all the drug classes used for treating the conditions associated with that topic
- I would designate time out of my schedule when I would start going through the topics and drug classes…
Example: Monday Feb. 22. 7-8pm –> Review pathophysiology and therapeutics of acne vulgarism. Review topical tretinoins, antibiotics, and Isotretinoin. Review indications, contraindications, adverse events, warnings, dosages, how to use the drugs, how to monitor, etc..
Example II: Tuesday Feb.22. 6-7:30 –> Review pathophysiology and therapeutics of Psoriasis and Eczema. Review all topical treatments, oral treatments and biological treatments. For each drug identified review indications, contraindications, adverse events, etc…
- I would continue like this working my way through Dermatology, then onto Respiratory, and on and on…
During study times you have to cut out distractions.
You have to get into that amazing feeling of focus when the world melts away and you are sucking up information like a sponge.
I love that feeling.
When I graduated and wrote my PEBC exam in May of 2008 I didn’t have a smartphone. I had an old flip phone. So it wasn’t distracting to me. But chances are pretty damn good that you have a smartphone now. So turn it off when studying, hide it in your backpack and go old-school. Paper. Pen. And your Attention.
And one place I would have gone more often is a library.
When I went there I got stuff done. I’d try to study at home but all my cool stuff around me would distract me. As your stuff probably distracts you.
I recommend packing up some notes on what you need to accomplish that day from your study schedule and head to the nearest library.
Remember to Take Care of your Body
A healthy body helps create a healthy mind. Don’t neglect your body. Set up a schedule to exercise, to eat properly, and time for adequate sleep. I discussed this more in an earlier post. Click here to read it.
Helping teach others is a great way to learn something yourself.
Do you have a friend that needs help with a particular topic?
Do you know someone in a grade below you?
Prepare some awesome notes to teach them about a topic. And hey, even if you don’t talk to them about it, you’ll have yourself some kick-ass study notes.
So I believe the missing key to PEBC exam preparation is a well organized, detailed study schedule.
I hope this helps. It would have helped me back in 2008. I would have been less stressed going into the exam if I’d followed a regimen like this.
If you have any tips on studying for big exams or your PEBC exam preparation, leave a comment below.
It may not be a study guide, but if you want a fun way to ease into studying, check out my downloadable PDF pharmacy crossword book. My goal for it is to help you ease into studying…have a little fun then get down to business.
Check it out on the “Products” Page.
And you can buy the softcover book too!
P.S. I hope the graphic below motivates you. Keep the end goal in mind.