“When you look back on last year, what do you think of? Which of your achievements are you most proud of?”
These questions dropped into my mailbox earlier this week. They’re good questions to reflect on. But, to be honest, at this time of year I always start to feel a bit jaded.
It’s a combination of things: the dark nights; the cold temperatures; the rain (or the snow, as happened this week); Christmas muzak blaring everywhere; and the fake forced jollity.
Not feeling the Christmas spirit.
Just overwhelmed. Exhausted. Jaded.
I’ve still got things on my work to-do list for this year that haven’t been crossed off. These tasks keep niggling like the start of a bad toothache that gets worse instead of fading.
It doesn’t help that since my Dad died suddenly on Jan 31st 2016… since then, I haven’t really felt much like celebrating Christmas.
He loved it. The tinsel, the razzmataz, the telly, turkey, mince pies, the lot. It still hurts to be reminded of all the things he loved when he’s not here to share in any of it. In bygone years, I got into it at the last minute, especially when I saw how my Dad got into it. He was ready to enjoy having his family around him. So, I’d shut the office door on work, at least from Christmas Eve until after Boxing Day, to make the most of this time of year.
Why am I telling you this? Well, I’m wondering if you feel the same at this time of year (exhausted, overwhelmed, or jaded)? Or, is it just me?
So, what’s the answer?
I wish I could tell you that the ABPI exam is a piece of cake. But, I’d be lying and I’m not that kinda gal. I’m a plain-speaking, tell it like it is kinda gal.
So, can I confess something to you?
Come closer… on 25th Feb 2020 it was the anniversary of setting up the ABPI Exam Toolkit.
Yep. Three years have now gone by since I got serious about sharing my tools and expertise directly with exam candidates on my new dedicated website.
That’s not my confession. This is: I should be celebrating and happy to have reached this milestone. But, truth be told, I’m too tired.
It’s been hard work putting it all together, and it’s nowhere near where I’d like it to be, in terms of interacting with more of you. For example, despite setting up a Facebook group, I’ve done zip to get it off the ground. I suppose I’m struggling with the idea of whether it’s something you need or want. (Perhaps you could let me know what you think about that, or even join the group if you’d like to share thoughts?)
But, here’s my dilemma…I know from the same conversation I have over and over again, that many of you feel unsupported when it comes to studying for your exam. Seems some of you also feel bulldozed by managers who made you register for the exam when you didn’t feel ready.
While it’s not good to feel unprepared (because your inner critic is screaming that you’re not up to the task, because you’re not good enough)… it’s truly the pits if you really aren’t.
You know in your heart of hearts if you’ve not managed your time well enough to get your revision done adequately; or worse, you haven’t really applied yourself, due to our old friend (or, should that be enemy?) the overwhelm monster.
So, what can you do about it?
The other day, an ABPI Exam Toolkit user got in touch to ask how other exam candidates go about studying the ABPI Code of Practice for the exam. Ideally, he wanted me to put him in touch with others to chat about it (by giving him their email addresses).
It’s a great question that made me realise you too might find the answer helpful.
But to be clear, no can do on the sharing other Toolkit users details with him, or anyone else.
The upshot is – neither I nor this site can act as a conduit to put Toolkit users in touch with each other. There’s a Facebook group for that. So, if you want to ask questions of other ABPI exam candidates, then consider joining it.
So, back to the question:-
How do people study the ABPI Code of Practice in preparation for the ABPI exam?
Have you asked yourself this question?
I was a little stumped the first time I was asked it, since it’s a personal decision on what, where and when to start revising. How can someone else answer that for you?
But then I realised that it’s a fair question, especially when you’re trying to work out where best to spend your time revising. Nevertheless, my answer then, as now, was “…it depends”.
When you’re building your study plan, the time you set aside to revise or learn different topics all depends on how much time you have in total to study.
How much time do YOU have to study?
The NHS is 70 today.
You’d have to be hiding under a rock to have missed the headlines about the 70th birthday celebrations for the NHS.
Whatever you think of this British institution, it’s 70 today. No surprise that’s it’s a bit creaky then, is it?
What does this big birthday mean for you, as an ABPI exam candidate?
I’m not going to go into the politics of how it’s organised or managed. Let’s just say that aside from the challenges the NHS faces, you’re challenged to keep up with its constant changes. For both the NHS and you, it’s a work in progress.
But, you must keep up, so you’re able to tackle the MCQs about the NHS in your exam. Hopefully, if you’re taking it later this month, you’ve also been sent the most recent version of the ABPI’s handout of NHS Structure & Function.
Since the ABPI stopped updating their site for trainers, I’ve had to rely on Toolkit users to let me know when a new version appears. So, thank you to those who gave me the heads up, alerting me to the need for an update of my MCQs.
I’m glad to say that after a flurry of emails back and forth, the ABPI sent me their most recent version of the handout yesterday. Fingers crossed that they’ll get back on track in the near future with keeping trainers in the loop.
While the NHS birthday celebrations are in full swing – here’s my announcement:-
Happily, just in time for the NHS’ 70th birthday, I’ve updated the MCQs in my Unit 1 to 4 MCQ Workbook.
(What a happy coincidence, huh? Couldn’t have planned it, if I’d tried.)
If you’re taking the exam later this month, don’t despair if you recently received your updated pdf from the ABPI. I know some of you are panicking because you’re tired, overworked and feeling like you may as well throw out your notes because there isn’t enough time to learn anything new.
First, take a deep breath. Think about what you’ve done so far. Take a step back. Then, throw that overwhelm monster off the cliff.
So what’s changed in the NHS since the last bunch of notes from the ABPI?
I’m asked fairly regularly: “Where do I find past ABPI exam papers?”
A seemingly straightforward, but loaded question, fraught with misunderstanding.
Worse still, it seems some of you waste time looking for mythical unicorns…
Got this great question about the sodium pump in Unit 4.4 Pharmacology from one of my tutees: –
“So, we know that the sodium pump actively moves potassium ions into the cell, and sodium ions out of the cell. If every transporter moves ions only one way, how come the sodium pump moves potassium in, and moves sodium out? Does it happen at the same time?“
This fabulous question nicely illustrates how – Continue reading “ABPI Exam: 2-minute lesson on the sodium-potassium pump”
One of my students, Maggie was confused about the difference between neutrophils and macrophages, and also about the significance of the proportions mentioned in the learning materials (i.e. 70% of white blood cells (wbc’s) are neutrophils and 4% of wbc’s are macrophages).
Neutrophils are the immune system’s 1st responders
As I explained to her, you need to remember that neutrophils are a type of phagocyte. Being first on the scene of bacterial invasion in the body, they do their bit to nuke invaders by gobbling them up and neutralising them with their lysozymes. But, they’re relatively short-lived cells, and are often overwhelmed by a growing army of – never encountered before – bacterial invaders (pathogens).
That’s when the 2nd responders join the party
Macrophages are beefed up, muscular, 2nd responder phagocytes who take over the fight a few days later, cleaning up the remaining invaders.
They also act as antigen presenting cells to T helper cells, which then proliferate (i.e. increase in number) in response to having antigen served up to them. Some of these helper T cells will then present the antigen to B cells, ultimately stimulating them to produce antibodies (i.e. after they, in turn, have proliferated).
These antibodies bind to the antigen, making it more appealing and juicy for phagocytes to eat (called opsonisation). If everything goes to plan, the end result is that invading bacteria are effectively cleared.
If the pathogen is encountered again in the future, memory B cells (and memory T cells ) will not only recognise it but help to produce antibodies to zap it even faster than before.
Have a look at the video below, which beautifully illustrates how neutrophils defend us from infection. Continue reading “ABPI Exam Unit 188.8.131.52 Phagocytes: Neutrophils and macrophages. What’s the diff?”
Chances are, when it comes to preparing for your ABPI exam, you’ve been left to get on with it by your company. Perhaps you’ve been told (mistakenly):
“… It’s really easy. It’s just some multiple choice questions. Just read the manual. You’ll be fine.“
So, of course, you registered for the exam, bought the manuals, then realised you need more time to prepare. Lots more time. And maybe some help. But, you’re on your own. Remember?
Because you’ve no choice, you’ve gone for it. Frustratingly, you keep missing a pass, by just a few marks.
You know what? You’re not alone.
Yours is an increasingly common experience.
More and more exam candidates are being hired for their sales skills, often with a proven track record in another industry. Coupled to this, you’re told that the exam is easy…that “…there’s nothing to it…just some MCQs.”
Or, perhaps you’re a marketeer taking the exam for professional development. Maybe you have a science degree.
Either way, you’re struggling. On top of the day to day challenges of the job itself, finding time to study can be overwhelming, especially if you’ve no background in science.
This leads me to those 9 things your boss needs to know.
Mnemonics (the ‘m’ is silent) are useful rhymes or memorable phrases, or even just a series of letters, ideas, or associations that assist in remembering something. The trick is for the mnemonic itself to be something memorable that helps you with recall.
For example, the ABPI learning materials provide you with MRS GREN (2.1.1 Life processes) as a way to remember the 7 functions performed by all living things, and demonstrated by all living cells:- Continue reading “8 reasons mnemonics make the endocrine system memorable”