Course review

Doctors Academy revision course for the DOHNS part B exam

Authors: Benjamin Stew 

Publication date:  05 Jul 2012

Who is it for?

The course is aimed at those taking their diploma of otolaryngology—head and neck surgery (DOHNS) part B exam. These may include surgical trainees and general practitioners who have an interest in ear, nose, and throat surgery (ENT). The DOHNS qualification is now considered essential for those applying for a national training number (specialty training level 3 in ENT). Those completing their membership of the Royal College of Surgeons (MRCS) part A and DOHNS part B examinations will be given MRCS (ENT) accreditation by the college.

When did I do it?

I did my DOHNS as a second year surgical core trainee and attended this course before the part B examination.

Who organises the course?

The course is run by the Doctors Academy (UK), a not for profit organisation that provides a range of educational activities and clinical skills training programmes for healthcare professionals.

How was the course structured?

The one day course was divided into sections that correlate with the DOHNS syllabus. The morning session consisted of small group anatomy and pathology demonstrations in the dissection room at Cardiff University. This gave us the opportunity to handle cadaveric material and gain an appreciation of the complexity of head and neck anatomy. Next was an interactive session on communication skills run by a mixture of clinicians, lecturers, and actors.

The afternoon session consisted of a mix of well presented didactic lectures and group demonstrations. These included how to perform an ear and neck examination, for the purpose of the DOHNS exam, and flexible nasendoscopy. Later in the day there was a mock objective structured clinical examination (OSCE), which included 20 unmanned stations and eight manned stations, as in the real exam.

We were provided with course material, including a revision manual and online lectures, making it possible to revisit the presentations later. The course runs three times a year and is usually scheduled a few weeks before the part B exam.

What was covered?

The content covered the clinical topics that regularly feature in the exam. These included gross and microscopic anatomy of key areas; identification of common ENT pathology, including video and radiological analysis; interpretation of specialist investigations; and familiarisation with surgical and emergency equipment. I appreciated the strong emphasis on the clinical application of this knowledge and the practical skills required for the exam. We were given the opportunity to practise our examination skills and work on our communication skills, with focused history taking and consenting sessions.

Were the candidates assessed?

Yes: the results of the mock OSCE examination were given at the end of the course, along with detailed feedback.

Why did you do it?

I had done a few ENT jobs as a junior doctor and was fairly confident in my core ENT knowledge. However, I had limited understanding of how the part B exam was structured or of how we were likely to be assessed. I wanted to do a focused course aimed specifically at the part B examination that was well within my study budget.

When and where is it held?

The course is based at Cardiff University. The facilities were excellent. The website ( [Link] ) included all the necessary information on accommodation, transport, and even places to dine in Cardiff. The food and refreshments provided throughout the day were first class.

How much did it cost?

The whole course, including the revision manual, was £165. This is one of the cheapest of similar courses available in the United Kingdom.

Was it worth it?

Most definitely, because I passed the part B exam first time. I think that the candidates’ feedback on the website speaks for itself ( [Link] ). The course was well designed and well delivered, and the faculty was enthusiastic and committed. Coverage of topics was good, and there was plenty of emphasis on how to succeed in the exam.

Top tips

  • Start revising before the course so that you have a decent foundation to work from.

  • Have a clear idea of what you want to get out of the course.

  • Ask questions of the faculty, in particular what came up in their exam.

  • Network with other course participants.

Competing interests: None declared.

Benjamin Stew ENT specialty trainee year 4, All Wales rotation Department of Otolaryngology, Royal Glamorgan Hospital, Ynysmaerdy, Llantrissant, Pontyclun, UK

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