Getting Set for the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) Assessment Exam

This article is targeted towards foreign trained medical doctors as well as graduates from non accredited medical schools in Nigeria looking to obtain a medical license to practice in Nigeria.
The main aim of this post is to guide you towards the necessary steps needed to succeed on this journey. The rigors faced in medical school cannot be underestimated but the challenge still continues as most strive to obtain a license to practice in a country of their choice. There are a series of steps needed to get licensed to practice in Nigeria. Journey with me as we explore them together.

Finish med school: To write the MDCN exam, you need to finish from a med school listed in the world directory of medical schools . That’s the only thing that guarantees your registration with EPIC, a platform needed to verify your result before you are allowed to register for the exam with MDCN. Study hard in medical school, your basic knowledge is important in acing this exam. It’s unlikely you are able to finish acquiring the medical knowledge needed within your three months of preparation. So learn as much as you can while in school not just to pass your exams but to treat your future patients. Also attend an elective training organized by your school or travel to another country of your choice including your country of Nationality to obtain some practical skills.

Verify your certificate via EPIC : The MDCN body requires that you verify your certificate via this International body before you are allowed to register. It costs a few hundred dollars, uploading your certificate, International passport and passport photograph to achieve this. I will be creating a blog post on how to do this on a later date

Register for MDCN: You can check on mdcn.gov.ng if registration is opened. The exam is scheduled to hold twice a year, sometimes in April and November. Registration is usually open for about three months. The documents needed to register are on their website as well as the amount to pay and how to pay it. There are four centers in Nigeria where you can take those documents for registration. The locations include Abuja, Lagos, Ilorin and Kaduna

Preparing for the exams itself

Join the MDCN telegram group: If you are not on Telegram please sign up and if you are already on telegram join the group. You have access to materials that have been shared since the creation of the group that can aid your study. There are volunteers on the group that post questions on a regular basis and you can participate or observe. You also have access to the latest information, tutorials you can join or people in your region that you can study together. You can ask any question on the group and there is a high likelihood of getting a response

Remedial training: MDCN recommends that you do a Remedial training in a recognized hospital but this does not come cheap. Most hospitals charge from 100k to 200k for this program. Depending on the hospital, you may have access to teaching from doctors in different specialty and you also get access to practical training sessions by observing and in some cases participating. Get info from people that have done the training earlier and ask for their candid advice. If you are not interested in a Remedial training program you could opt for paid tutorials

Paid tutorials: There are so many of these out there now. Find out the one closest to you or if you can travel to that region it's all well and good. From my observation, most of the tutors actually put a lot of work into helping their students. While doing this tutorial, you could also team up with doctors in hospital closest to you to learn some bits of practical training. Whether you do Remedial training or paid tutorials, each has its upside and downside.

Personal reading: Read as if all hope depends on it. Even though you opt for Remedial training and paid tutorials, have a personal time to study and keep it consistent. If you are doing the Remedial training, make sure to go through all you learnt in the day before you sleep (as advised by one of my doctors) and if it's tutorials, ensure to read your tutorial notes

Recommended books for the exams:
Medicine: The Guide Medicine and CMDA-Students Prećiś
Surgery: The Guide Surgery and Udefiagbon’s textbook 
Obstetrics and Gynecology: The Guide Obstetrics and Gynecology, Synopsis obstetrics and Gynecology, Blueprint 
Pediatrics: Rule of thumb pediatrics, the Guide pediatrics, Synopsis pediatrics 
You can use any or all of these books with at least one in each subject

For Clerking 
Get the book “Clerkship Secrets” and practice common cases.

For Picture test and OSCE 
Each of the recommended books above have a section on common pictures, radiography and instruments, ensure to study them
Also further recommended study on
Surgery 
Udefiagbon’s slide on;

Review of Clinical Pictures 
Review of surgical instruments 
Review Radiographs
Osce in Surgery by Dr Besong

PS: You can get these slides and books on the Telegram page

Pediatrics 
Osce in Pediatrics

For examinations
Although November 2018 exams did not have a question on examination of a particular system, it is important to know it as most exams in the past had at least one OSCE station on examination. Use… 
Udefiagbon’s video on YouTube 
Get Doctors and colleagues to teach you 
Practice! Practice! Practice! 
You don’t know it until you practice

For MCQs
Question by Sugar on the MDCN telegram page 
Any random medical question bank online 
First Aid USMLE step 1 to brush up your basic knowledge if you have extra time
Your residual knowledge

Your med school notes

For Counseling

No special books or documents are available for this. Most people use the acronym ‘GATHER’

Greet

Ask

Teach

Help

Educate

Recall

Group discussion 
I had groups of twos, fours and as much as fourteen. You can't always read on your own, find time to discuss with people on a regular basis. This may be planned or unplanned. Discussing is one of the effective ways of studying. It helps you remember things you forget, be a master at things you know and know what your colleagues know that you don't know. Do this as often as you can, have people around you with a common goal you can't go wrong with this. Even if you believe the people you are with are better than you, don't chicken out, make your own contribution and strive to be the best of you. Help each other become better..this is one rule to staying on top

Compare notes
I don’t mean this in the literal sense but if you have friends that opted for options different from yours..say for example, you are attending tutorials and your friend is attending a Remedial training, find time to communicate via chat, call or physically to know what they know that you don’t know and also share what you know with them.

Mock Exam
As much as it depends on you, do a mock exam. It may not necessarily access your preparation for the exam, but it helps you know all your tendencies when exam tension is involved. For example, I had a tendency of speaking low. During my mock, the simulator actually told me to speak up for the examiner to hear, so I knew for the real exam I had to speak as loud as possible. I was also very jittery during my first examination, going through this mock also helped me learn to calm my nerves even under intense scrutiny. Not to worry, you can still do just fine even without a mock exam.

The exam itself
The exam is two days: one day for Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs) and picture test and the other for OSCE

MCQs and picture test
In October /November 2018, we had 300 questions for two hours. You are expected to choose the Single Best Answer for each question. 
Section 1 was labeled Surgery I and there were 250 questions 
Section 2 was labeled Surgery II for picture test with 50 questions

Please note that we had just two hours for the 300 questions including picture tests. You need to be as fast as possible and make sure to touch questions in each section even if you don’t finish. No matter what you perceive as the outcome..keep calm and prepare for your OSCE. Get there early, some people were prevented from writing the exam because they got there late.

OSCE 
Get ready for the OSCE exams. Get there early irregardless of your registration number, I know the wait can be tiring especially if your number is not amongst the first, bring something to eat, they will also give you something to eat. Sleep well before the exam day if you can help it. Be at alert. There’s going to be a time where you have no access to any reading material by then choose to discuss with friends. More revision and more revision. There’s nothing you will be doing for the next few minutes or hours till you are called except resting or discussing. Keep calm.

During the exam, read your questions at least twice and listen to instructions. Be calm and confident as you attempt all questions. As you move from one station to the other, stay calm. Even if you feel you underperformed in your previous station don’t be agitated. See your new station as your first and give it your best.

Unlike the usual years where there was Examination of a particular system or management of a medical emergency, November 2018 was different 
Two stations on Clerking 
Three stations on diagnosing radiographs
Two questions on prevention and public health 
One question on counseling 
One question on Gynecology 
One question on pediatrics

Pray: Pray for favor, wisdom and understanding. MDCN exam is not about being brilliant, sometimes it’s just time and chance. Some people met nice examiners who wouldn’t add to the exam tension while others met those that made them jittery. Even when you know it, you also need to be able to communicate your thoughts in the best way that matches the marking scheme. Pray like all depends on it and read like all depends on it. I do pray you find favor and make it in your first or next attempt.

Remember you are a doctor already. None can take that title from you. You worked for it, you earned it. Now go mend a leg. All the best guys.

Yours truly,

Tomilayo Awofolaju (M.D.)