The P. Chandarana London Psychiatry Review Course

In front of more than 200 of his peers, a psychiatry resident goes through a mock-scenario involving a young patient newly diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. He is being assessed on his ability as a medical expert, collaborator and advocate, and the scenario is being broadcast in real-time on a big screen for his colleagues to see.

After a round of applause and a sigh of relief, the resident joins in with the group to debrief and learn from his experience. It’s all part of a unique learning experience for residents that takes place here at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry.

Each year, psychiatry residents, practicing clinicians, and International Medical Graduates from Canada, the U.S. and around the globe gather in London to hear from world-renowned experts on every aspect of their practice from depression, to sleep disorders and ADHD. The week-long course features 20 lecturers who provide hands-on practice and in-depth review to aid residents in their preparation for the Royal College Examinations.

Created by Dr. Praful Chandarana, the course has been running for just shy of 25 years, and started with only six residents in its first year. It has grown in number of attendees to more than 200, based wholly on positive word-of-mouth, thanks to Dr. Chandarana’s passion for academic medicine.

After he passed away in 2014 from pancreatic cancer, Sandi Hallock, his former secretary, and now organizer of the course, has carried on the tradition, along with the help of former psychiatric nurse Kristen Webb and Drs. Carla Garcia and Mark Watling who moderate the sessions throughout the week.

Recently, Hallock also renamed the course in Dr. Chandarana’s honour. 

“Everyone always called it the ‘Chandarana Course’, and so I thought what a great way to honour him,” Hallock said.  “I knew this course meant a lot to him. It was his legacy, so I thought it was important that it be named after him. He had such a huge interest in teaching and education.”   

Now called the P. Chandarana London Psychiatry Review Course, it not only carries on his name, but carries on his mission to equip residents with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed not only on the exam but in their future practice.

Dr. Chandarana thought it was important to not just give the residents the information, but to also give them hands-on training in preparation for the situation-based part of the Royal College Exam called the Objective Structured Clinical Examination, or OSCE.

Dr. Aturan Shanimugalingam, a fifth-year psychiatry resident at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry, will take his exams alongside his colleagues in early May, and is confident the course has helped him prepare.

“It is like a 'rite of passage' for residents before they go on write their Royal College Examinations in May,” said Hallock.

And Dr. Shanimugalingam says it is the OSCE portion that has earned the course the reputation among his peers in North America as the place to be for exam prep.

“The really unique thing about the Chandarana Course is that it focuses on providing us with the skills to actually verbalize the knowledge and be able to present it in a cohesive manner, which is the anxiety-provoking part of the exam for most people,” he said. “It's important to not just have the knowledge in your head, but to be able to use it.”