Friday, March 20, 2015

Finally—Spring Equinox!

For those of us who have survived the third coldest Michigan February in 135 years (according to the University of Michigan’s records), this day is a welcomed celebration of warmth. The average temperature last month was only14 degrees. The signs of spring—melting snow and chirping birds—remind me that there is a laundry list of things that I want to get accomplished. There is still time to dust off the to-do list and get to work. What is on your list? Perhaps taking the Fellowship exam?

I was at our Michigan AGD annual meeting last weekend having lunch and this very topic came up. I heard members say that they haven’t taken the exam because they feel “there isn’t enough time to prepare for the exam,”  “I don’t want to travel to take the exam,” or “I don’t have enough CE for Fellowship, so why take the exam?” I’d like to debunk some of the myths surrounding the AGD Fellowship Exam and let you in on how I prepared for it. I wrote about what Fellowship means to me, but I didn’t include insights on how to get there. First, let’s clear up some misunderstandings that may be holding you back.   

Myth: “There’s not enough time to prepare.”  
If you break it down into sections, it is doable. For a few months I gave up some ridiculous television program (that I am certain sucks knowledge from me) and used that time to study. 

Myth: “I don’t want to travel to take the exam.”   
Although the annual meeting undoubtedly is one of my favorite dental events each year, I understand that attending may not be possible for some members at different stages of life. The good news is you can take the exam at a local testing center! That’s right—you don’t have to take the exam at the annual meeting! I was surprised to learn that many people are unaware of the local options. The second benefit of taking the exam at a testing center—instant results (great for those of us who need instant gratification).

Myth: “I don’t have the required CE hours.”  
You don’t have to wait until you have all of the hours! TAKE THE EXAM NOW! Recent grads, take it! Your prep time will be minimal since little would have changed since you took your boards. The Fellowship exam is just one of the criteria needed in order to become a Fellow. The exam doesn’t expire; once it is completed, you are set! I believe the confusion arises in that, once you apply for Fellowship and you are approved, you have three annual meetings in order to participate in the Convocation Ceremony to receive your Fellowship.  

Now that we have that straight, the way I went about the exam was pretty simple. I downloaded the content outline into a blank document. I also purchased the most recent AGD study guide so I would have a good feel about how it was written. I took a practice run before I even began reviewing content and had a good idea where I needed to focus. That is where I started on building my study guide. This turned into a 62-page study guide that I built from old study exams that colleagues had previously purchased, as well as my own notes. I could see the breakdown of topics within a discipline and make sure every section had been covered. For me, the studying part really was the formation of the study guide. Once I had it complete, I reviewed it a few times and knew it inside and out—then I was ready (well, as ready as I thought I could be). 

I must point out, the Fellowship exam is not easy, but is absolutely feasible. I heard someone mention once, Fellowships are not given away, they are earned!

Stop making excuses for not taking the exam. You know you have ALWAYS wanted to do it, and now is the perfect time! I will even make it one step easier. Here is the link to the page on the AGD website that will provide you with the necessary forms in order to get registered!

Happy spring!

Colleen B. DeLacy, DDS, FAGD

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