How to win an MUHS MS Ophthalmology Gold Medal!

Dr. Zelda Dadachanji, MBBS, MS (Gold Medalist), DNB, FCRS, FICO
  • Dr. Zelda Dadachanji successfully completed her long term fellowship in Cornea, Ocular Surface & Refractive Surgery from Narayana Nethralaya, Bangalore where she also worked as a Clinical and Translational Scientist.
  • She completed her MS Ophthalmology with a Gold Medal from Maharashtra University of Health Sciences in 2017 and is an alumnus of Nair Hospital (Topiwala National Medical College) in Mumbai. 
  • She holds an MBBS degree from the Lokmanya Tilak Municipal Medical College and General Hospital, Sion, Mumbai.

Interview

Q1. Your year of passing, name of university and your score.

A1. Cleared the finals of MS Ophthalmology of the Maharashtra University of Health Sciences with 78.25% in the year 2017, Nair Hospital (Topiwala National Medical College), Mumbai.

Q2. Elaborate on the books you referred.

A2. I used Kanski’s Clinical Ophthalmology and Postgraduate Ophthalmology by Zia Chaudhari & Murugesan Vanathi as my “base textbooks”. These are concise, well written and good for revision from the “exam point of view”.

  • Anatomy & physiology of the eye by Dr AK Khurana
  • Strabismus Simplified by Dr Pradeep Sharma
  • Theory and Practice of Optics and Refraction by Dr AK Khurana + Clinical Optics Textbook by A. R. Elkington
  • DOS articles are a brilliant asset in helping preparations for the exams. Read the pertaining articles after you have read one topic from the textbook and incorporate the extra points into the same.

I also read few topics from parts of Ryan’s Retina , Shield’s Textbook of Glaucoma, Cornea by Krachmer, AAO textbooks (for a better understanding of certain topics when I felt the need).                

Apart from these watching surgical videos / reading textbooks / manuals regarding ophthalmic surgery are an important aid to your surgical training. The nuances of surgery can be best learnt when well versed with the theory.

Q3. Tell us about your study plan / How did you juggle between your study plan and hectic residency?

A3. Honestly a hectic residency, did not let me adhere to a strict plan of action. But the mantra is simple – ‘Read when you can’. Considering any residency tends to become less hectic with each passing year – having a target for each year is more helpful (break it up into few months at a time).

  • 1st year – Focus on the basics: To treat even the most complex cases requires a solid understanding of the normal physiology and a sound knowledge of the normal anatomy of every layer of the eye, so start with that!
  • Your residency will most likely start in the Refraction room , so a great time to finish reading about your basic optics and refraction.
  • Also as a first year PG, you are often the first point of contact for patients arriving with ocular emergencies so keep a PDF / hard copy of Oxford Handbook of Ophthalmology/ The Will’s Eye Manual handy. Go back and read about every emergency you come across. Also to finish one reading of Parson’s Diseases of the Eye by the end of your first year.
  • 2nd & 3rd year : Your entire 2nd year and most of your 3rd year leading up to your Preparatory Leave (which MUHS colleges tend to give) has to be dedicated to reading every subspeciality in great detail. This will also help you understand which superspeciality piques your interest.
Q4. Ideal number of revisions to write the exam confidently?

A4.

  • I would recommend a minimum of 3 revisions of the whole syllabus. Certain volatile topics may need more revisions.
  • Another important tip is to focus on the most frequently asked questions over the last 5 years (Question bank), a little more as you approach closer to your exams.
Q5. Tell us your preparatory leave time-table?

A5.

  • To each his own. Do not overwhelm yourself by trying to cram too much information in day.
  • Keep 10- 12 hours for intense and dedicated reading and the rest of the time can be for relaxing, good sleep and activities of your choice. Some physical activity (walks / exercise – workouts) – definitely recommended.
Q6. Quick checklist to be a gold medalist!

A6.

Theory exams:
  1. Remember to always start any answer to a new question on a fresh page. 
  2. Please remember that your full text is not read and so the examiner should understand at a glance the extent of your knowledge.
  3. For this purpose, direct the examiner to the crux of the matter by making flowcharts and highlighting the subtopics and important points (by underlining, using inverted commas etc.)
  4. A must to draw well labelled, colored diagrams wherever possible. (if you are not good at drawing, line diagrams are a minimum requisite)
  5. Try to add a point on the recent advances / important studies on the topic asked. This gives  the impression that you are well-read.
  6. Please remember that the length of the answer should be proportionate to the marks allotted. Do not fill pages for the sake of filling. Your examiner will see through that!
Practical exam
  1. You should know the basics of a detailed ophthalmology examination like retinoscopy , slit lamp examination techniques, direct and indirect ophthalmoscopy.
  2. The eyes doesn’t see what the mind doesn’t know, so look for signs that you would expect to see and that comes with only thorough reading.
  3. Again colored and well labelled diagrams are an absolute must.
Q7. How does securing a gold medal give you an edge after your residency?

A7. Well it definitely makes your CV look good. Will probably help when applying for a fellowship or any job interview for that matter. However, not having one doesn’t change much either. It’s more important to be clinically sound and knowing why you treat; what you do!

Q8. Mantra that kept you going!

A8. Discussing cases amongst your colleagues and your teachers, and promptly reading when you see a case in OPD go a long way in recollecting the required answers during examination and your practice later. Remember your patients are your biggest teachers. Love what you do and make it a rule to have some fun every now and then. Good Luck!

If you have a secured a Gold medal or are a Topper of your University in the last 3 years, please get in touch with us at eyelearn.in@gmail.com