Practice and preparation - The MDU
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Practice and preparation


The questions have been developed to test five professional attributes extracted from the person specification for a foundation doctor which can be found at the UKFPO website. These are:

  • commitment to professionalism
  • coping with pressure
  • effective communication
  • patient focus
  • working effectively as a team.

The test assumes you'll have some knowledge of the job of an FY1 and you'll be asked to respond as such. Your answers need to reflect what you should do bearing in mind these professional attributes, rather than what you would do.

The aim of the test is to assess your aptitude for the role, and it's often quoted that you can't be coached through the SJT. However, given that there are a finite number of hypothetical scenarios, and that the values and attributes you'll be tested on have been clearly documented in a few core documents, there is plenty you can do to prepare.

Top tips

Study the FY1 person specification and the five professional attributes the exam tests.

  1. Read the GMC's 'Good medical practice' and 'Outcomes for graduates'.
  2. Practise as many questions as you can and where possible do this under exam conditions
  3. Make sure you read the questions carefully and understand how to complete the answer sheet.
  4. If you don't know the answer to the question, don't panic. Answer to the best of your ability or move on. Time is short!
  5. Put yourself in the position of an FY1 when answering each question. Remember the questions are written to assess the different characteristics identified through the FY1 job analysis and mapped against GMC guidelines.
  6. Read each question carefully and consider what it requires according to each attribute.
  7. Don't overthink the answer or make assumptions.
  8. Remember the wellbeing of your patient is your first concern. Other considerations are secondary.
  9. When answering questions be honest, act with integrity and be fair to patients and colleagues alike.
  10. Remember the limits of your competence. Appreciate your boundaries. Don't work outside them but do whatever you can within them.
  11. Seeking advice and gathering information is difficult to criticise.
  12. Be strict with your timing. Try to complete the paper within the timescales and remember that random guesses may be identified as such and awarded zero points.
  13. Make sure you have a basic understanding of medical ethics and law.

And finally…

This might seem like a lot of effort for just one exam, especially if you're happy with your choices of foundation job. However, the UK Foundation programme is over-subscribed, and in the past applicants have had to be put on a reserve list with no certainty of being placed on the foundation programme after qualification.

You should also know that SJTs are making their way in to other medical application processes, like the application to GP vocational training schemes and public health medicine. Because of this, it's useful to know how to tackle them.

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