November 29, 2016

2nd hand observations about Dr Hamed's Common Stations for PLAB 2 (vs. Samson)

i need to rant a little bit, but its about my husbands PLAB 2 course so not wildly interesting. but i need to write this out.

doctor decided he should take a course in preparation for PLAB2. fair enough. there are at least 2 well known schools offering PLAB2 common stations courses in London; Samson and Hamed. online, they both have a big fan club with equally positive feedback. doctor had a friend who recommended dr. Hamed from personal experience so he took that. it was a 2 week course with some people traveling here from abroad to participate. boy were they sorely disappointed when the course lasted a few days extra, decided the last minute. so instead of 14 days it was 17 days. also, the mock exam (9 stations) that was included in the price of the course was reschuled for a later date. so those people coming from far away missed out on that. oh well.

the course was supposed to start 9:30am daily... but the earliest it ever started was 10:30. usually it starts around 11. the only break - for lunch - was around 4pm. and the day lasted usually until 9pm, often 11 or midnight. seriously. midnight. oh well thats great you get a lot of hours for your money? no, who the fuck can learn new stuff, sleeping barely 8 hours, spending hours waiting, and then sitting in class for 12h straight?  this seemed fucked up to me and doctor was not too happy himself. he was constantly tired and trying to make sense of everything. of course everyone arrived at the course center later, like 10:30 or even 11, but nevertheless when you study until very late night with just one break...:/

and the extra mock exams if you should buy any? they can be on consequent days, starting at 8am for example. which means you will wake up at 6:30 and be there at 8 but really it will start at 9 or 10 or whenever they feel like it. ok. then, after the exam they tell you the feedback will be given at 6pm. so you hang out in lovely Barking all day. at 6pm, of course there is nothing. at 7:30pm they might start considering to give feedback. and something around 10pm, you will MAYBE get your feedback for the exam you had like 12h ago. so around midnight or 1am you have received it and finally go home and try sleep and feel fresh for the next mock at "8am" the next morning. good luck with that. doctors, at least EM docs, are used to shitty sleeping hours and rough schedule, but for a private company to do this to people who paid proper money for their services is just shit. there is practically no time between the mocks to digest the feedback and try to improve. even if the exam is scheduled at 5pm, it wont start until hours later, and then your feedback can be delayed until 1am still.

however: dr Hamed is apparently a good teacher, the people i've talked to who took his course all agree on this. so i have nothing bad to say about that. taking his course, you will probably learn a lot, and it covers the stuff one needs for the exam - this is the most important thing. he also gives 'nice to know" info on NHS and how things work, which is invaluable in terms of integrating and preparing for work life. he makes people write everything down too, instead of giving free text books or notes as Samson does, so hopefully that will help you learn (unless you leave his class early at 10pm and have to beg others for notes). so im not bitching cos ppl taking his course arent passing their exam or cos the teaching is inadequate - i am bitching cos the organisation and customer respect are zero, when they don't have to be.

Dr Hamed's Common Stations is cheaper than Samson, but his extra mock exam's are pricier (150£ for 2, instead of 50£ each at Samson). and during the course Hamed  advertizes his extra 3 days course, which is more focused on practical examinations, and its 250£. most people take it, cos they don't get enough of that during the actual course. so in the end, you pay almost the same, most likely. Samson's course includes more mock's to begin with, and is a tad bit more organised, with free coffee on the premises (you wouldnt think that matters but if you pay 1£ per cup it starts adding up). i'm NOT saying Samson is better, he also lacks table manners from what i hear, but just putting more info out there. also on some courses, Samson has 'teachers' who just recently passed PLAB2 themselves, but lack teaching the students rather study from the book on those days. the facebook groups are just full of praise to these demi gods, i need to balance it out. honestly if these courses depended on european students, they would have to change their behavior. sorry to say but middle eastern/african people are unfortunately too used to this treatment and just accept it as it is.

oh and no one gets a receipt from either course, from any of the courses or exams, these businesses are for sure not paying all of their taxes.  im not super passionate about this, what is it to me if they dont pay taxes? but disrespecting student's time and then (most likely) not even paying taxes, somehow i find it double offensive.

another comparison between Samson and Hamed is here. it says there too that Hamed's courses are 17 days, but on Hamed's website they are pretty clearly 14 days. prepare to dedicate about 3 weeks of your life, just in case...

update 8/2017:
a friend of ours took Hamed's course this summer and we discussed it and i asked him specific questions in relation to the things i write about above. Hamed had actually said at the course that he had read negative feedback online and will try to make some improvements :D 
1. schedule: The course usually started at 9.30-10. If the course was to start later Hamed told students to come at 10 and it started around 10.30. Classes ended around 22.30 everyday. (Except for 2 manikin practice days. Those days ended around 19.30
2. Mocks covered 18 stations like the real exam.
3. 2 mocks were included in the course price. But if the date of your PLAB2  exam is too close to the end of the course you may end up having only 1 or none in extremely close dates (like 1 - 2 days to exam)
4. They stuck the overall schedule (ie. the course didnt run extra few days like last year)
So, these sound to me like positive developments.

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