PG Blazer: Congratulations on securing the top rank in the AIIMS PG entrance exam! What is the secret of your success?
Dr. Siddharth Jain: Hard work, perseverance and blessings of God, my family and wellwishers.
PG Blazer: Could you tell us something about yourself?
Dr. Siddharth Jain: I am an alumnus of Delhi Public School, Rohini. I was rank 1 in AIPMT and DPMT in my time. I have done my MBBS from All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi.
PG Blazer: Who or what influenced you to take up Medicine as a career?
Dr. Siddharth Jain: I believe medicine is a very noble profession. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing your patients smile after they get better. I belong to a family of doctors, so I have grown up in this atmosphere.
PG Blazer: What were your aggregate percentage marks for MBBS?
Dr. Siddharth Jain: 76.4%
PG Blazer: How did you prepare during your internship period?
Dr. Siddharth Jain: Regularity is very important. At the same time, I made it a point to hone my clinical and procedural skills in this period. You have to try and strike out a balance between the two, as both of them are equally important.
Internship is different in different medical colleges. If the internship in your medical college is very heavy, it’s best to start preparing early.
PG Blazer: Which were the various entrance exams you wrote in this session? What were the ranks you obtained?
Dr. Siddharth Jain: AIIMS PG: Rank 1
PG Blazer: What ranks did you obtain in your previous attempts? (If applicable)
Dr. Siddharth Jain: This was my first attempt
PG Blazer: When did you start serious preparation for this year’s entrance exam?
Dr. Siddharth Jain: I think 2 years of rigorous preparation suffices. I targeted pre final and final year subjects in my final professional and covered the first and second year subjects in my internship.
But again it depends on your internship. The heavier it is, the earlier you should start preparing.
PG Blazer: What was your study strategy?
Dr. Siddharth Jain: Strategy for interns: My study strategy varied according to the time I had at hand for a particular subject. As this was my first attempt and I am still an intern, I didn’t have the luxury of a lot of time. I used to glance through the MCQs before starting a particular topic to get an idea of the type of questions asked. Then I used to read up the theory and subsequently solve the MCQs. But this is a time taking approach. In case of paucity of time, I chose to read up just the theory. Never leave any subject untouched. It will haunt you always. So time management is the key, especially if you are an intern.
Strategy for post interns: Being sound in theory is very important as it helps you tackle new questions. Since you have more time at hand and you have a fair idea of most subjects till now, you should focus more on subject wise textbook-based study over an MCQ repeats-based approach.
Strategy for undergraduates: Make yourself conceptually strong. Read quality textbooks like Robbins, Harrison, Bailey & Love, etc.
PG Blazer: Did you make any notes for helping with your revision? Were they useful?
Dr. Siddharth Jain: Yea I did make notes. Since the course is so vast, making notes helps.
PG Blazer: In your opinion, how much time does a student require for preparing for this exam?
Dr. Siddharth Jain: 2 years of rigorous preparation should suffice.
PG Blazer: How many hours did you study each day?
Dr. Siddharth Jain: That’s an absurd question I always feel. Quality of study is way more important than the quantity. You can spend 12 hrs reading with your phone by your side texting / whatsapping / facebooking….it is equivalent of 3 hrs of undisturbed quality studying. Mind needs relaxation. How many hours one can put in without the mind being fatigued out is individualistic. PG preparation is not a 100m sprint. It’s a marathon. Last month before the exam is important. I used to put in around 12 hrs/day in that period.
PG Blazer: Did you have a timetable for preparation? Were you able to stick to it?
Dr. Siddharth Jain: I did have a timetable. But I couldn’t stick to it because of the ongoing internship and the vastness of this course.
PG Blazer: What role did the internet play in your preparation?
Dr. Siddharth Jain: Internet is a two edged sword. The good part being it helps you in clearing your doubts, keeping yourself updated with the latest things in medicine and it can be a good stress buster. The bad part being, it’s one of the biggest distractions in this generation. How you want it to be, is your choice.
PG Blazer: Did you ever doubt your ability to get selected in this entrance exam? If so, how did you overcome your fears?
Dr. Siddharth Jain: This feeling does crop up. Not once but many times. It’s inevitable. The secret is to never give up and keep studying nonetheless. Talking to friends and family, gymming and sports were my stress busters.
PG Blazer: Did you attend any classroom coaching? Was it useful? Do you think classroom coaching is essential for getting a good rank?
Dr. Siddharth Jain: Yes I attended classroom coaching. It helped me build up a base over which I could add more knowledge subsequently so that I was well prepared when I sat for the exam. I have colleagues who have done equally well without attending any coaching. So, I would say they are not essential per se, but yes they helped me.
PG Blazer: Did you attend any test series? If so, did you find it useful?
Dr. Siddharth Jain: Yes I gave tests religiously. They helped me stay focussed and identify my weak areas from time to time.
PG Blazer: What were the subjects you focused upon?
Dr. Siddharth Jain: It is important to touch upon all 19 subjects. A subject once left is a phobia throughout. Of considerable importance for AIIMS are PSM, Ophthalmology, Pharmacology and Medicine.
PG Blazer: Which books did you read for theory?
Dr. Siddharth Jain: These are the books I read in my undergraduate time:
Anatomy –BD Chaurasia, Thieme’s atlas
Biochemistry – Harper
Microbiology – Baveja
Pharmacology – KD Tripathi
Forensic Medicine – Sumit Seth
ENT – Dhingra
Ophthalmology –Khurana, Ruchi Rai
SPM – Park
Medicine – Harrison
Surgery – Bailey and Love, some topics from Schwartz
Orthopaedics – Maheshwari
Paediatrics – Ghai
OBG – JB Sharma (Obs), Shaw (Gynae)
Anaesthesia – Ajay Yadav
Dermatology –Neena Khanna
Psychiatry – NIraj Ahuja
PG Blazer: What was your approach to Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine?
Dr. Siddharth Jain: I don’t think reading Harrison cover to cover is a very good idea. I read Harrison in my final year. If there is a paucity of time (as is the case mostly), I would suggest reading CVS, respi and critical care, rheumatology, hematology, liver and kidney preferentially. Otherwise, sky is the limit as far as Harrison is concerned.
I also used Harrison as the key reference book for controversial topics/questions asked in PG entrance exams. It’s the Bible indeed.
PG Blazer: Which books did you read for MCQ’s? Which ones were the most useful?
Dr. Siddharth Jain:
Exam specific books :
Amit Aashish (AIIMS)
Mudit Khanna (AIPGMEE)
Subject wise books:
Physiology – Across
Biochemistry – Across
Pathology –Gobind Rai Garg and Sparsh Gupta
Microbiology –Rachna Chaurasia
Pharmacology – Gobind Rai Garg and Sparsh Gupta
Forensic Medicine –Sumit Seth
ENT –Sakshi Arora
Ophthalmology –Ruchi Rai, Across
SPM -Vivek Jain
Medicine – Amit Aashish, Some topics from Harrison’s board review
Surgery – Mudit Khanna, some topics from Schwartz pretext
Orthopaedics – Apurv Mehra
Paediatrics – Arvind Arora
OBG – None
Anaesthesia – Across
Radiology – Sumer Sethi
Dermatology – Across
Psychiatry – Across
PG Blazer: Is there anything specific to keep in mind while preparing for AIIMS?
Dr. Siddharth Jain: The AIIMS exam tests a lot of skills besides your knowledge. First of all, the questions are more conceptual and less factual. The toughness quotient is higher. Some questions are not even found in the textbooks we are supposed to read. But even the seemingly tough ones can be worked out in the exam. Presence of mind in the 3 hours of exam is the key. A good night’s sleep before the exam is important. I recommend my juniors to not fish through their study books on the morning of the exam. It is important to stay focussed and stress free.
Sections (IPC, Cr PC) are a high yield last night revision topic.
PG Blazer: How did you tackle the PGIMER entrance exam?
Dr. Siddharth Jain: I didn’t give the exam as AIIMS result had been declared by then. I decided to relax instead.
PG Blazer: How did you prepare for the image based questions?
Dr. Siddharth Jain: I didn’t prepare for image based questions per se. I believe it’s like finding a needle in a haystack. If your concepts are strong, and you have been regular in the 4.5 years of your MBBS, you can easily solve the question based on the clinical vignette given along with the image. A sound reading of Robbins in your 2nd year also helps.
PG Blazer: What was your strategy for taking the exam?
Dr. Siddharth Jain: For AIIMS (200 questions in 180 minutes), time is usually not a problem. So, I did the paper in two stages. In stage 1, I went through the entire paper answering the easy questions as they came by and marking the relatively tough ones for review. Stage 2 was for the “marked for review” questions.
As I was sufficiently well prepared, I was looking to attack every question. I attempted 197 questions. If you are able to eliminate 2 options in a question, it’s better to take the risk rather than leaving the question unanswered.
Although I didn’t give PGI, I would suggest that it’s best to adopt a defensive approach for PGI as opposed to AIIMS. Mark only if you are a cent percent sure. This is because of a higher negative marking. Time is always a paucity in PGI. Your primary aim should be to finish the paper somehow. Don’t follow the two stage policy here you’ll be screwed.
PG Blazer: How many questions did you attempt?
Dr. Siddharth Jain: AIIMS –197
PG Blazer: How many do you think you got correct?
Dr. Siddharth Jain: AIIMS – 159
PG Blazer: Which speciality are you interested in choosing and why?
Dr. Siddharth Jain: I have not been able to zero-in on a specialty till now.
PG Blazer: What is your advice to future aspirants?
Dr. Siddharth Jain: PG preparation is not easy. It’s a lot of hard work and toil. But keep going. There will be times you will feel low/disappointed. But never give up. It’s worth it in the end.
Quoting Eric Thomas “When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you’ll be successful”
My best wishes to everyone.
PG Blazer: That brings us to the conclusion of the interview. Best of luck for your future endeavours!