Dr. Sashwanthi Mohan underwent MBBS from Govt. Kilpauk Medical College and Hospital, Chennai and then completed DNB from prestigious L.V. Prasad Eye Institute, Hyderabad. She is a Gold Medalist in Ophthalmology in DNB Final Examinations conducted by NBE – December 2018 Session. She has cleared FICO, Fellow of the international council of ophthalmology. She is currently working as a consultant in Rajan Eye Care Hospital, Chennai.Dr. Sashwanthiwas kind enough to talk toeOphthaand share her experience during his post-graduation.
eOphtha:Congratulations Dr. Sashwanti !! Tell us how did you prepare for your examination?
Dr. Sashwanthi Mohan: I have personally never adhered to a study pattern. But I made it a point to do day to day learning. Whatever I saw in OPD and OR that day, I would try to study about that at the end of the day. When I saw a case, I tried to study the basics, the theory, and the practical aspect of it.
Studying for the morning classes, scheduled DNB oriented theory classes, and bedside clinics ahead of time are useful in the long run. In the first year of your residency, a good grasp of basic anatomy, physiology, and optics is important. Taking up the ICO exams at the end of my first year also helped me in achieving that. I found that day to day learning, making notes, and discussion of what we see in clinics is the best way to stay ahead.
eOphtha:Is making notes helpful?
Dr. Sashwanthi Mohan:Note making is extremely useful as there are so many resources at our disposal now. We can make good notes with flow charts and colored diagrams for important exam topics by referring to different sources during the first two years of our residency. We can come back to these notes before the exam and need not refer to different books to get one answer. Note making should start from the basic anatomy and physiology, till the management and the latest advances for a particular topic with neatly drawn and self-explanatory diagrams, flow charts and tables which can be directly replicated in the exam paper.
eOphtha:How to manage thesis and study in the final year
Dr. Sashwanthi Mohan:Do not let the thesis get in the way of your preparation time. DNB makes you submit the thesis 6 months before your final years exams. All the data should be collected in the first two years (for primary DNB) or first year (post DO DNB) and analysis should be by the end of the 2nd year (for primary) followed by writing the manuscript over the next two months. Topics such as introduction, materials, and methods can be written while the data is being analyzed by the statistician. Completing and submitting the thesis well ahead of time will take one stress away and the rest of the time can be concentrated only on studying for the exam.
eOphtha:Tell us about the importance of everyday clinic, discussion with teacher & colleagues
Dr. Sashwanthi Mohan:This was the most important reason for me doing well exams. Spending as much time as possible in OPD and OR is essential. Each OPD day, instead of trying to see all the cases, we should concentrate on noting all the findings in about ten cases. We should make notes about them, draw relevant diagrams, study the theory, and present the case to our respective consultant and clear our doubts. I realized during my residency that asking more and more questions, even if they sound stupid to you is the best way to correct your mistakes and not repeat the same during the actual examination. Discussing with the respective ophthalmology fellows and your colleagues is also especially useful.
I was incredibly lucky to have studied in one of the best institutes in India, L.V. Prasad Eye Institute, Hyderabad. There was a well-balanced mix of academics, clinics, surgeries, and research which always kept you on your toes. Other than the daily morning classes for the entire network, there were scheduled theory classes for DNB students on almost a daily basis. Bedside clinics were also very frequent. All the consultants we were posted with would help us out in OPD/ OR and ask questions and give homework which made us prepare better for the exams and also become better clinicians and surgeons.
eOphtha:What all textbooks you have studied during post-graduation.
Dr. Sashwanthi Mohan:
- Zia Choudhary
- DOS articles/ Review articles on Pubmed/IJO
- AIOS CME Series
- Pradeep Sharma for few topics in pediatrics
- Bhajandas for few topics in Neuroophthalmology
- Elkington for optics
- AK Khurana for Anatomy/Physiology and Optics
- Ocular and Visual Physiology by Springer publications
- Shields for Glaucoma
- Slideshare presentations
- AAO books for few chapters
- Namrata Sharma Practical Ophthalmology
- Aravind FAQ
- The Ophthalmology Examinations by Wong
eOphtha:Importance of online resources in these days
Dr. Sashwanthi Mohan:I frequently visited the following websites which helped me greatly during preparation for the exam:
- Eyewiki - AAO
- eOphtha – especially for the easily replicable diagrams for anatomy
- Mrcophth – before practical exams
- Slideshare presentations
- Pubmed for review articles
eOphtha:How did your parents; family and friends contribute to your success
Dr. Sashwanthi Mohan:I have a great support system consisting of my parents, husband, sister, friends, and also my amazing teachers and mentors at LVPEI. They always had faith in me doing well and were encouraging throughout. They helped me remain the same during the preparation time and I owe all my success to them!
eOphtha:Tell us about your strategy for the revision during the exam. How many revisions did you do?
Dr. Sashwanthi Mohan:I made two to three revisions in the last 2 months before the exam depending on the subject. I had some weak points such as oculoplasty, glaucoma, and optics and I spent more time revising them. I am not a good artist, so I spent more time on anatomy and optics diagrams also. I went through the last ten-year DNB questions at least 3 times.
The number of revisions is based on each individual. Subjects you think you are weak in or are more volatile should be revised more. I found that cases that we see commonly in clinics, I could easily write an answer for them without thinking too much, so I spent lesser time on them. We have to segregate what we know very well from what we don’t know very well and spent time on the latter. It’s impossible to know every word in all subjects, but we have to know a little bit of everything.
eOphtha:How should one proceed to prepare for the DNB Ophthalmology exam? Can you give some tips for postgraduate students
Dr. Sashwanthi Mohan:
For the theory exam:
- Make notes throughout your residency by referring to different books which you can go back to before the exam
- Be thorough with frequently asked questions, especially the last ten year DNB question bank
- Do not start studying from a new textbook towards the exam and instead follow the notes you have made during your residency and use the books that you have already been referring to.
- Discuss with your colleagues on what all to cover and ask each other questions to help you find out what you can concentrate more on
- Try to write mock exams before your actual exams to learn time management
- During the exam, time management is very essential and do not spend more time on one question unnecessarily and do not miss any question – there is always one such question in every exam but write whatever you know and fill in the pages
- Do not write too many words and crowd the pages – fill the pages with flowcharts and diagrams
- Most importantly, read the question number and the questions carefully and do not miss parts in the questions – nowadays the DNB questions have different parts – missing one part can cause you to lose a lot of marks
For the practical exam:
- In OPD, whichever patient you are seeing, note down all the findings thoroughly
- Whenever required make diagrams with the correct colour code- corneal, lid, retina etc – this will help you in the exam to remember what colours to use
- Keep the case proforma at your fingertips
- Do not miss simple findings, your basics should be strong
- Do not get confused by the diagnosis and go with the findings that you have made
- Take a few seconds and think before you answer when asked a question
- Most importantly, do not panic
eOphtha:Tell us about your website.
Dr. Sashwanthi Mohan:I started a website, Instagram Page, and Facebook Page called Ophthalmobytes in October 2019. It is a virtual atlas of various ophthalmology cases with a short but informative description which will be usefulfor both examinations and clinical application. I plan to have quizzes and case discussions as well. The website will be useful for ophthalmologists, ophthalmologists-in-training and optometrists.You can browse the websitewww.ophthalmobytes.com