Thursday, 12 December 2013

Exam Review - OSCEs

My exams are finally over! My OSCE was on Thursday and the two written exams were on Monday and Tuesday. I’m locuming in the really quiet pharmacy until 11pm again tonight so I thought I’d write up a review on the exams whilst it’s still fresh in my mind, starting with the OSCEs.

Considering that I got an Excellent (>75% on every station) in the summer OSCEs, I thought that these OSCEs were going to be a walk in the park, but they weren’t. It didn’t help that we only had 2 weeks exam revision leave, and the OSCEs were timetabled before the written exams, so trying to balance OSCE and written exam revision was difficult. They gave us 3 anatomy stations, which I didn’t like as being grilled on anatomy isn’t my favourite thing, plus I thought OSCEs were supposed to be for testing practical skills rather than just asking us anatomy questions or pointing to muscles on models! The stations were as follows:

Cranial Nerves II-VI – 5 minute station
This was the first station and I was really nervous. I think I could have done slightly better, but I think that I did ok and I could answer the questions.

Clinical Anatomy - CVS Surface Anatomy – 5 minute station
I’m pretty certain that I’ve failed this station. The examiner phased his questions weirdly and kept skipping backwards and forwards through questions which got me confused and in a muddle. Consequently, I ran out of time to answer all the questions.

Clinical History Taking - Respiratory – 10 minute station
This one was fine. I feel like I’m pretty good at history taking and I couldn’t remember anything I’d forgotten to ask about afterwards.

Abdominal Examination – 5 minute station
This station was also fine. It was just a regular abdo examination. I was an idiot and went straight from patient details, consent etc to palpation, skipping out inspection, but half way through I remembered and asked the examiner if I could do it then and he let me thankfully!

Clinical History Taking - Male Urinary – 10 minute station
This history was slightly harder than the respiratory history as you had to include a sexual history in it, but I’m happy that I asked all the important questions and I had just said “thank you” and “any questions?” to the patient when the buzzer went – perfect timing!

Clinical Anatomy - Spinal Column – 5 minute station
This station was fine. The examiner was this lovely old man who filled out the marking sheet in front of my eyes so I know that there was only 2 questions which I got wrong out of quite a lot so I’m pretty certain that I’ve passed that station. The questions were mainly about features of the spine and the vertebrae and naming different things.

Clinical Anatomy - Lower Limb & Hip Joint – 5 minute station
This station was a bad one. My mind just went blank on some of the questions and I just couldn’t remember the name of some things. Additionally, the model they used to test us on the location of different muscles and nerves looked a bit different than the images I’ve used to revise lower limb, which also threw me slightly. We also had to demonstrate a Trendelberg's test and a Thomas's test which I think I did ok.

Focussed History Knee Pain – 5 minute station
This station wasn’t difficult, apart from the fact that despite being called a focused knee pain history, we actually had to complete a full history, but in 5 minutes which meant that timing was very rushed. I managed to ask everything apart from the ever important ICE (ideas, concerns and expectations). In retrospect I should have asked ICE sooner in the consultation and missed out some parts of social history instead, but in my normal history taking format I always like to methodically work through questions and ask ICE last so that’s just what I did for this station. Oh well, I think I’ll have still passed, especially as everyone I've spoken to didn't complete this station in time either.

Thyroid Gland Examination – 5 minute station
This station wasn’t difficult but I’ve still got a suspicion that I may have failed this station. We didn’t have to do a full thyroid examination, just the thyroid gland itself and the lymph nodes, and then answer a few questions. I’m not sure why I think I’ve failed this station as I think I included everything and could answer the questions, but I just have a feeling.

Respiratory Examination Chest – 5 minute station
This station was ok. We only had to do an anterior chest examination, which I think I did fine, but I then didn’t say what extras I would do (eg. check for oedema, spirometry etc) as I didn’t even think about it as we were just told to do an anterior chest exam, but in retrospect I think that I should probably have included it. We then had to answer some questions and percuss a box and describe the sound. I think I did ok on this bit, but there were some bits I didn’t explain very well.

We can fail up to 3 stations and still pass the exam. Overall I think it went ok, and I think that I’ve probably passed, but I’m not 100% confident.

Now that exams are over, I don’t really know what to do with myself! I keep feeling guilty and thinking that I should be doing revision. Why is it that the internet and everything else is so interesting during revision period, but now that I don’t have other things to do, they’ve lost all their interest? Buzzfeed’s 30 Greatest Animal Photobombs of 2013 and the like just aren’t as entertaining now…

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