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Tips to prepare for the DNB, Ophthalmology Examination

Interactive session with Sabyasachi Sengupta DO, DNB

Dr Sabyasachi Sengupta DO, DNB is currently pursuing a fellowship in surgical vitreoretinal disorders at Sankara Nethralaya, Chennai, India. He completed his Diploma in Ophthalmology from JIPMER, Pondicherry and Diplomate in National Board from Aravind Eye hospital, Pondicherry. He was awarded the Mc Cartney prize from the royal college of Ophthalmologist’s in London for securing the highest marks in section of Ocular Pathology in FRCOphth Part I exam held in January 2010 and had the distinction of being the first ever non British national to receive this award. He won the G. Venkataswamy gold medal in DNB, Ophthalmology for the exam held in December 2009. He also won the national quiz at the All India Ophthalmology conference in January 2009. He was awarded the Swarnalatha Punshi award for the best research fellow at Sankara Nethralaya for the year 2010 – 2011. He has published more than 30 articles in peer reviewed journals and has presented more than 13 papers and posters so far in national and international conferences. He is a regular reviewer for many journals including Archives of Ophthalmology, Ophthalmic surgery, Lasers and Imaging and Indian Journal of Ophthalmology. He has featured in American Cataract and Refractive Surgery Podcast (#229) discussing Toxic Anterior Segment Syndrome released on the official website of the ASCRS in December 2011. He is a life member of the All India Ophthalmology society, Tamil Nadu ophthalmic society and Pondicherry Ophthalmic Association. His current research interests include pathology of retinoblastoma, Endophthalmitis, Diabetic retinopathy and polypoidal choroidal vasculopathy. His open attitude towards sharing his insights on preparations for DNB examination in India clearly exemplifies spirit and core values of mutual help and collective intelligence.

eOphtha: Congrats Sabyasachi!! What is the secret of your success?

Sabyasachi: Thank you very much for those kind words. I am humbled. There is no magic formula for success but a combination of hard work, perseverance and a little bit of luck does the trick.


eOphtha: How should one proceed to prepare for the DNB, Ophthalmology exam?

Sabyasachi: The approach to preparing for any examination must be simplistic i.e. what to read and where to read it from and finally How to read everything in a short time. These are the 3 core ingredients that, if planned and executed well, can bring success.

eOphtha: Can you give us a brief idea into these ingredients?

Sabyasachi: The most important consideration is where to read topics from. I will give a brief outline of this. It will help students to use these resources and not only expand their knowledge base but also help them apply this to clinical scenarios and thereby improve patient care. There are basically 3 sources of reading:

  1. Conventional text Books and Journal articles
  2. Internet based interactive websites
  3. Clinical application based books different from text books

eOphtha: What are the conventional text books and Journal articles to follow?

Sabyasachi :

  1. Kanski – 7th Edition – excellent for initial basic reading but extremely inadequate for passing the DNB exam
  2. AAO – American Academy of Ophthalmology series – Precise and concise
  3. All Major reviews from SURVEY of OPHTHALMOLOGY Journal (4 issues every year) for comprehensive preparation of the topic covered in the major review.
  4. DOS Times – Delhi Ophthalmic Society – Read at least the previous 5 years issues
  5. American Academy – Preferred practice patterns (PPP) – Free download. Provides excellent flowcharts for disease management based on current knowledge. Also has very good tables summarizing and comparing the major clinical trials in the particular field.
  6. RETINA Specific reading –
  7. Yannuzzi text book of Retina and Vitreous for medical Retinal disorders
  8. Ryan text book of retina for Surgical retinal disorders
  9. Imaging techniques –– Newer Imaging techniques (Text book) by Dada, Mandal published by Jaypee publishers, Sankara Nethalaya atlas of FFA
  10. Glaucoma Specific reading – Shields Textbook and Becker Schaffer
  11. Cornea specific reading –
  12. Smolin and Thoft text book of Cornea,
  13. Grayson’s Cornea – provides concise reading but not as comprehensive
  14. Vajpayee textbook on Keratoplasty – Jaypee publishers
  15. Uvea specific reading:
  16. Uvea textbook by Amod Gupta from PGI, Chandigarh – Jaypee
  17. Foster – Vitale OR Nussenblatt for additional reading if time permits
  18. Orbit and Oculoplasty specific reading
  19. Jaceobic excellent for Orbital disorders and Proptosis
  20. LC Dutta – textbook of ophthalmology (Orbit very well given for exam writing)
  21. Lids and reconstruction – Kanski, Parson’s
  22. Pediatric Ophthalmology specific reading – Khurana, Pradeep Sharma
  23. Neurophthalmology – Walsh and Hyott Synopsis

 

eOphtha:  How important do you think is Internet in preparation? 

Sabyasachi: I think internet based learning is a very key issue and often neglected by our students. The websites enlisted below go a long way in helping students bridge the gap between 2 of their best friends i.e. textbooks and patients.

  1. www.eophtha.com – the best and only interactive Indian website for e-learning 
  2. O.N.E Network – AAO website – Free tutorials, didactic lectures, journal access,  teaching videos and lots more
  3. Ophthalmic hyperguides – Online lectures
  4. Eyetube.net – Online surgical lectures
  5. ASCRS – Podcasts.

eOphtha:  What are the different Clinical application based books and how are they different from text books you used to consult?

Sabyasachi: The clinical application based books are very concise and descriptive. They provide real life like clinical scenarios and help students apply knowledge. However, it’s prudent to read the conventional text books first and then the application based books enlisted below:

  1. Wills Eye manual – carry to clinics every day.
  2. Rapid Diagnostic series for all sub-specialities
  3. Ophthalmology Pearls – Janice. A. Gault. MD. Elsevier (Indian reprint 2008)
  4. Manual of Ocular Diagnosis and Therapy – Deborah Pavan – Langston. 6th edition. Published by Walters Kluwer (India) and Lippincot Williams and Wilkins. Indian reprint in 2008.
  5. Jack J Kanski – Test Yourself Atlas in Ophthalmology – 3rd edition. Elsevier. Indian reprint 2009
  6. Common Neuro – Ophthalmic pitfalls. A case based teaching. Valerie A Purvin and Aki Kawasaki. Cambridge press (www.cambridge.org). Indian reprint 2009

 

eOphtha:  How to read everything in a short time..your advise to students?

Sabyasachi: The tips listed below show how I prepare for all my Exams.

  1. Divide the available days into smaller periods and decide on deadlines to finish topics.
  2. Always decide on the main source of reading and then an alternate referral source (more extensive) if time permits
  3. Formulate an excel sheet with above mentioned details and re-visit it periodically
  4. If reading a topic from multiple sources, make notes if possible and keep record of where you have read a topic from
  5. Refer to exam papers from past exams only in the last 2 months.
  6. Try to write at least one MOCK EXAM 1 month before the real one.
  7. While reading for a question, formulate an outline for the answer at the beginning and then expand each point enumerated in the outline at the beginning of the answer
  8. Remember to prepare for answers in the form of flow charts, comparative tables and diagrams

eOphtha: How much time do you think one requires for serious preparation for this examination?

Sabyasachi: I think it’s very important to be exam oriented throughout one’s residency. By that I mean, keep collecting valuable resources like review articles, power point presentations and books during the entire residency period. Once you have good material to start with, you can read everything in around 6 months and leave 2 months for revision.

eOphtha: What was your strategy for the revision? How many revisions did you do?

Sabyasachi: I did more than 1 revision for the important topics and at least one revision for all other topics over 2 months

eOphtha: What is your opinion about eOphtha?

Sabyasachi: It’s a very innovative website and probably the best website available for Indian students. The material available on the website is ever evolving and covers a wide array of topics including DNB examinations, fellowship opportunities in India and excellent academic power point presentations.

eOphtha: How did your parents; family and friends contribute to your success?

Sabyasachi: I had an amazing support structure. My wife and parents gave me the belief that I could achieve my goals and succeed. If not for them, I would not have achieved as much.