Getting to know you, getting to know all about… the Part A Syllabus

I’m the kind of person who likes to plan and work within a structure.  It’s important for me to know what is expected of me, what I need to demonstrate and how that needs to be demonstrated.  So, in hand with a cup of coffee for support, this morning I am looking at the FPH Part A Syllabus. *Deep Breath*

Ok so there are 6 broad sections:

  1. Research Methods
  2. Disease Causation (and the diagnostic process in relation to public health; prevention and health promotion)
  3. Health Information
  4. Medical Sociology, Social Policy and Health Economics
  5. Organisation and Management (of healthcare and healthcare programmes)
  6. Skills tested at Part A

I started counting each of the learning objectives but stopped when my count was over 100 and I had only finished the research methods section….  To summarise – there is an awful lot to learn, and I’m not sure it’s useful to dwell and panic regarding the absolute numbers, but rather to plan my time to make sure I can cover everything and consolidate the knowledge.  Luckily – I’m in an advantageous position:

1) I’m thinking about it early – this gives me time.

2) I’ve just completed the MPhil in Public Health at the University of Cambridge – this course worked to its institutional strengths in statistics and epidemiology, and I like to think some of that knowledge has been retained.

3) My academic background is in sociology and psychology, therefore it follows that I’m motivated to study section 4, and much of that section will be familiar to me already

4) Having worked in public health teams at both national and local level, I have relevant experience which will be useful in applying and illustrating my ‘knowledge’

5) I’ve co-founded the ‘Public Health Twitter Journal Club‘ (#PHTwitJC) which seeks to critically appraise academic papers.  This will no doubt help to support my learning and skills in this area

As Public Health Specialty Registrars we’re well supported to prepare for these exams.  We’re given study days (there will be 4 of us in my region grouping together to support and console through this process), study leave (mine is booked for the beginning of Jan – just prior to D-day), Ed Jessop‘s revision sessions, plus Deanery organised ‘Introduction to Part A’ and mock exams.

*Technically* this coming week I’m on annual leave (and therefore should remove all work related things from my mind)… however, I’m taking a staycation and there is a corner of my room packed with MPhil revision and course notes that needs to be dealt with.  So this week I think I’ll start organising myself in prep for the ‘Introduction to Part A’ session at the Deanery after the back holiday.

Don’t worry – my week off will involve non-work related things too.  The apparently infinite number of courgettes grown in my garden need cooking (recipes anyone?) and I’m now hooked onto The Wire (season 2), plus catching up with friends…etc  Anyway, I’m off to a wedding in London this afternoon, but wanted to post on the blog to get my head in the game.  Done.


3 responses to “Getting to know you, getting to know all about… the Part A Syllabus

  1. Hi,
    I am excited to read someone’s accounts of preparing for the MFPH Part A exam. I just finished my MPH and felt that I wanted to feel like more of an ‘expert’ rather than someone who can research and find the information – I am wondering: when did you begin studying for the exam in relation to when you sat the paper? Am I foolish for aiming to take the exam in June, or should I wait until next January?
    Thank you!

    • Hi Penny,
      Thanks for your message. I would say allow yourself at least 6 months to prepare, so starting now for the June 2016 sitting should work well. The key difference between MPH and MFPH exams is the latter is more practical – so ensure you include as many real-life examples to back up answers. There are often local revision groups dotted around the country via public health medical training programmes. These can be invaluable for sharing knowledge, doing mocks and getting feedback. Do let me know if you would like to be put in touch with your local group (I can email you off-line). Either way, good luck!

      • Hi Caro,
        Thank you for those pointers – I just got my textbook today and am I very excited! Although I didn’t sit any exams for my MA or my MPH (only assignments, practical tasks, and research/dissertation) and am nervous to sit my first exam since my undergraduate…
        That would be amazing – thank you. You’re too nice! Do you have my email through this automatically or do I need to send it to you?

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