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What is your super power?

My girlfriend says I have a super power. She is actually quite jealous of it and wishes she had it too.

It is not a very exciting super power like the ability to fly or invisibility. In fact, my super power is rather more mundane when compared to those super (hero) powers.

My super power is the ability to sleep in any situation. I don’t mean to say I am a narcoleptic because that unfortunate trait would have prevented me from getting anywhere in life, let alone training to be a GP.   No – what I mean to say is that whether it is sunny, noisy or hot outside, I have the ability to fall asleep quickly. This trait has proved to be especially useful when I did weeks of night shifts in my medical jobs or variable twilight shifts when I worked in the Emergency Department.

Unfortunately, just like Superman, I have my kryptonite where my special power becomes useless. Recently after several years of concealment, my (personal) kryptonite made its reappearance and prevented me from having a good night’s sleep.

My kryptonite is sitting exams. On the 25th April, I sat the Applied Knowledge Test (AKT) exam.  

The AKT is the first major exam a GP trainee has to sit during their training. Nowadays some trainees will try and attempt to do the exam in their ST2 year, but most will try and do the AKT in their ST3 year. I have been thinking about the AKT since midway through my ST1 year- mostly with dread. The exam venue was in a sterile room in front of a computer monitor and lasted 3 hours and covered 200 questions with time literally counting down in the corner of the screen, like the end of the World was coming.

The post-AKT life is a mixture of relief and trepidation. Hopefully, ‘fingers crossed’ or ‘touch wood’ or whatever you do for good luck, I will get through this first exam, have a breather and start focusing on the next exam which is very slowly rising above the horizon – the clinical skills assessment (CSA) exam, which is an even more daunting exam akin to MRCP PACES, where the trainee will be assessed on their consultation skills and ultimately assessed whether they will be a competent and safe doctor.

Alas, what with regular appraisals and revalidation, the need to be assessed on ones skills and knowledge is a lifelong chore that I will have to deal with in my future life as a working general practitioner.

Dr Avradeep Chakrabarti is an ST2 from Swindon