I want to start by dedicating this post and my blog to Appa (my father).
Appa passed away recently in June 2022 after battling cancer for two years. He was diagnosed when I began residency. He was my cheerleader, he was the first person I would speak with about my career aspirations, my next decision/steps and my exam results. Appa was not in the medical field but his dream was that I would become a physician. Appa was the one who would research medical schools for me, took me to my exams and interviews, he flew with me to BC to get me settled in before I started my traineeship. Anything I needed he was there to guide me and support me along the way. Appa loved reading my blog updates on my site, his next hope was for me to write about my exam prep. He helped me through my struggles and wanted me to help others who are struggling to Match as well.
Appa was there when I opened my Match results, when I started residency, he saw me through residency, he was the first person I called when I passed my CFPC exam and he was able to attend my graduation on June 11th. He passed away on June 25th.
I will continue to do what I can to help others, Appa. Thank you. I dedicate this to you.
On June 7, 2022 I found out that I passed my CFPC board examination. To add humor, for some reason I am always in the loo whenever my exam results come out! I and my family (kiddo, husband, in laws) were on vacation in Alberta enjoying the mountains at the time, it was the perfect time to receive my board exam results.
What is the CFPC examination?
The CFPC (College of Family Physicians of Canada) examination is what you take at the end of your family medicine residency to practice independently as a family doctor. I felt my program did a great job of preparing us for this examination from the first year of residency. Exams are offered in the Spring and Fall…(not sure if there are ?Winter exam sessions).
The examination consisted of two parts – The SOO (Simulated Office Oral) and the SAMP (Short answer management problems) that were taken on two separate days. You can choose the date of the SAMP exam, whereas the SOO date is given to you. Our SOO exam was a week or two after the SAMP exam.
The SOO portion of the exam was completed virtually from home. This exam consisted of various patient scenarios. Examiners would play the role of patient and we would be the physician and during an allotted period of time we would gather the information from the patient, come up with a possible diagnosis and the next steps for testing & follow up. As it is virtual, there is no physical exam aspect to the exam. In our discussion with the patient at the end we would let the patient know what physical exam/tests we would want to perform when we see them in person.
The SAMP exam can be either taken virtually from home or at a Prometric centre. I chose to take it at a Prometric centre because I was nervous about connectivity/internet/technical issues that may occur taking the exam from home. The exam is 4.5 hours long, it is scenario-based and fill-in-the-blanks. This is not an MCQ examination. There are approximately 35-40 questions and each main question has 3-4 subquestions. The questions are based on the 105 topics (below you will find all the helpful links).
How did I prepare for the exam?
My exam was scheduled in April 2022. Juggling residency, a toddler & “home life”, I needed to start studying early. Looking back out of all the exams I have written in my life (which have been MANY!) going into this exam I was the most calm. I surprised myself.
I found a good group of study buddies (also Super Moms!) in my class and we started studying in December 2021. As we all had different rotations/schedules/on-call shifts and so we tried to study at 6 am or 10 pm (this would last for about 2 hours) several days a week.
We also signed up with The Review Course
For the SOO ->
My residency program started preparing us from first year. We had a day where we would log into Zoom and we would be paired up with 2 preceptors (who will be the patients) and 1 resident (also the patient) and they would throw a random patient scenario at us. It was timed and definitely nerve wrecking! I believe throughout the first and second year we had 3-4 practice days. It was very helpful! We would find study buddies in our group to practice cases with. We would practice it untimed and then eventually time ourselves.
We used cases from this site: SOO Script Library
There were also Queen’s cases that were sent to us (sorry I cannot share this). It was quite a bit of fun pretending to be the actor, so definitely get in the zone and enjoy it! As the exam approached closer I went onto a Facebook group to find additional study partners. I remember practicing SOO cases every single day until I felt comfortable with it.
On the day of the exam, dress professionally, stay calm, you have been through real patient cases that have been tougher than this! Being nervous is normal 🙂 There were at least 2-3 cases that were confusing, the patient problem was not straightforward as what I had practiced on the practice cases, but I had a specific organized approach, I was mindful of the time and hoped for the best! Watch the video for the SOO exam (as above), on the exam software there is a timer so you are aware of how much time you have left as you are going through the exam.
For the SAMP ->
I think how people prepare for the SAMP differs for everyone. Also everyone’s opinion on The Review Courseis different.
My opinion on preparing for the SAMP is the more questions you do, the better you will feel on the day of the exam. Ofcourse you are going to forget things, or not know how to answer something but do your best! Don’t leave blanks on the exam.
The Review Course is expensive and also I felt that their lectures and notes were a bit disorganized and rushed (I attended the online lectures). What I DID like about them is the number of practice questions they sent out and the difficulty of their questions compared to the practice questions I found online. I also liked their Exam Essentials website.
I completed all the questions they sent out TWICE. I made notes while studying the answers at the side of the questions/or separate sheets/folders. I read up on the questions I was unsure about (which were many!!), I referred to my Family Medicine Notes, I also asked my preceptors about some of the questions and answers.
Also please please please do THIS practice test (below) TWICE if you can. There were some questions that repeated from this practice test on my examination.
Other helpful websites:
Start studying early (at least I think so) and then a month before the exam study SMART. It will be less overwhelming for you closer to the exam date.
Don’t leave SOO studying until the last minute.
Don’t overwhelm yourself with too many books/websites etc.
Questions, questions, questions!
Have a really good study group that holds you accountable.
Don’t think the SOO is “easier” than the SAMP or the SAMP is “easier” than the SOO. Study equally hard & smart for both.
For the SAMP don’t leave any blanks on the exam. Guess if you have to. Use the initial part of the exam that it the tutorial to calm your nerves. Don’t skip it. Also be aware of the time as you are going through the exam. The good thing about the software is you can go back and forth between questions. If you don’t know something mark it and then go back to it when you have time. Also YES some questions will be so straightforward you will think they are tricking you. Sometimes the answer are right IN THE STEM or vignette. They are not tricking you. 🙂
For the SOO be pleasant, polite, say please, thank you, sorry. Be aware of the time. Everything is digital now so while you are practicing cases start typing on word if you need to make notes, don’t use paper.
If by any chance you don’t pass one or both parts of the examination don’t worry! Life happens, you just have to retake the one you didn’t get through in the next exam session. This doesn’t prevent you from practicing as a doctor. This doesn’t make you any less of a doctor.
I hope this has been helpful and not too overwhelming. Feel free to ask me any questions.
PS – I will continue to update this post as more info is available