First let me congratulate you for passing written test. Now this part of the exam is very easy. Only you can fail yourself now. One in three will pass exam. Yeh I heard that, you’re asking “what about those 2 people”. Well you will find the answer by reading this article. It takes only few minutes of your time but believe me it is worth reading.
Most important things to remember for OSCE exams: -
1) Have a good night sleep night before exam.
2) Take bath and wear clean and pressed dress.
3) Do not mess with your hairstyles few days before exam.
4) Shave and do not use strong perfumes or deodorants.
5) Wish actor and examiner when enter the cubicle (do not forget to wish the examiner even instructions says don’t talk to the examiner- because by whishing him/her you are not talking to them and you will also make them feel their presence is acknowledged.).
6) Talk clearly and loud (not too loud- I assume you have practiced this at home in front of mirror by recording your voice).
7) When you are talking, look in to other person’s eyes.
8) DO NOT and DO NOT interrupt patient when they are talking let them finish then talk. If it is psychotic patient scenario look for pauses then take over the patient. Your failure is guaranteed if you interrupt the patient.
9) When bell rings to indicate end 7 minutes. Please don’t forget to thank the patient and examiner.
10) Do not travel the same day morning even if it is 50 miles away. Remember traffic jams. And if you are using satnav, remember poor reception may guide you to Leeds not to Sheffield. Leave plenty of time for the travel. Ideally go there night before.
There are many other precautions you can read from many websites and books.
If you have taken written test in March then you will have about 4 weeks for OSCE otherwise 3weeks only. Not to worry as I said before this is very easy exam.
Preparation: - this actually starts when you first started seeing the first patient in your psychiatry career. You are building up all skills over last 12 months. Now it is the time for you to refine those skills-that’s all.
If you have taken psychiatry because it was easy to get in to jobs, don’t worry you can still make it assuming you have assessed plenty of patients over last 12 months. But, remember it is time for you to take your field seriously.
Get back to your study partners again (assuming they have also passed, other wise form new group) you need minimum 3 ideally 4 people to prepare for this exam.
Let’s start preparation: - there are 2 very good books for OSCE preparation, get hold of them. Otherwise be nice to medical reps they will get it for you for free. And collect all past stations from the net. Also book a course, or ask medical rep to organise course for you. What ever you do make sure that you attend at least on of those courses before you go for real exam.
There are about 75 stations to prepare (some make it more than 100 by sub dividing those stations) now separate them area wise. For example, History taking, communications skills, counselling so on.
There are 3 methods to prepare but, better use all three methods.
1: by practicing with your group.
2: by practicing in front of the mirror-don’t laugh it is very useful.
3: this very important and easy. Practice with real patients when you are on call.
First method: with your group: -- make sure that you have real exam environment as much as possible. One keeps time, 2nd person as examiner, 3rd person is patient and you as a candidate. And change your roles for each scenario. Practice at least 10 a day. That’s all you are going to pass the exam. But, remember be strict with your time when practicing.
Common problems with this method—people usually have their own opinions about communication skills. Every one thinks they are the best that results in arguments. But you have to avoid getting in to those arguments. Remember the proverb “you can take donkey to river but you can not make it drink water” (I know it was horse).
Second method: - this will gives you an idea about your body language and your voice. If possible, record your voice and then listen to it. Then you will know the week areas in your communication, style and body language.
Third method: - when you are on call, you can practice and depending on the hospital you will get variety of cases to practice. This improves your confidence because you are in real life situation. You will also notice that you have made many mistakes in pervious assessments. If you felt that way bingo, no one can fail you now.
What ever you do, complete all the scenarios at least thrice before you go for exam.
Now let’s look at some common complaints about this exam.
How the bloody royal college thinks that we can finish cognitive assessment in 7 minutes? It takes minimum one-hour man.—very common complaint.
Let me explain. Did they ask you to do full cognitive assessment? NO, then why did you try to do that in the exam? Because, were confused and not prepared well. Do you think college is not aware much it takes for full cognitive assessment? Well they are assessing your judgement skills. READ THE QUESTION PROPERLY do what they want NOT what you want.
All local people pass this exam man there is discrimination!
Yes about 99% of the local graduates will pass this exam but why?
Because, this exam is about communication skills, body language and inter personal skills so on. For them it is taught from nursery. For most of us it is new thing. if you want to become good psychiatrist you need to learn those skills.
Look at this statement
1) You are psychotic and I am giving you haloperidol, you should take it three times a day and come back to clinic in three months time- sounds familiar!
Learn how you can convey the same message in polite way. Ask your colleagues who are graduated in UK, how they convey the message and remember those key words and use them in the exam. If you are shy then there is very good book. I am sure you know that book by now.
Finally, it is very easy exam and all you need is good communication skills.
Good luck guys and see you in part 2.