A couple weeks ago I saw a notification from my class’ Facebook account…”Great…another reminder that we have to pay for our NPLEX exam…there goes $450!” I thought
Until I opened the little message…”OSCE GRADES ARE POSTED!”
OSCE … OSCE grades…oh geez…you know what though, at this point and I’m ready to check. I was sitting in the back seat of Bryan’s car, my mum in the front seat and we had just had a wonderful lunch at Swiss Chalet (delicious, right?). There was no expression on my face, they were having their own conversation and I didn’t want to let them know I was checking just in case it was news that went “south” I wanted to sulk on my own for a bit…Now I checked that mark, and I checked it again, and I put down my phone with tears in my eyes…
Slloooowwwww down there reader! Let me tell you a little bit about how my OSCE actually went before I tell you about that grade I read posted online.
April 20th…the night before OSCE, Kaitland and I were studying our buns off at North York General Hospital like we had been for the last couple weeks in preparation for this exam…it’s 11pm and I’m ready to call it a night…wellll….after thirty minutes of laying in a dark room talking about our fears we have for tomorrow. I was dreading it being in the morning. We had to be there at 7:30am…or was it 7:45am? Gosh, well I was there at 7:30am and I am NOT a morning person at all. I function best after 9am! None of that mattered because we couldn’t pick our time slot for OSCEII…so I went to bed by midnight and woke up without my alarm at 6:30am.
Breathe in, breathe out…breathe in…breathe in again…hold it…breathe out… I was trying to calm myself down in the morning and a wonderful classmate of mine came over to me while I was making my breakfast and she said to me “You look ready Jess…you look calm and I feel like you are going to do this well…it won’t be easy but you will do it and you will do well…” Those words stuck with me, and they reminded me that I have come a really far way and I studied hard and I have the knowledge and skills needed to pass this exam.
I’m ready. I put my business attire on, my clinic coat on, make sure my name tag is straight and I grab my medical bag. And I left my room and headed down to the clinic where OSCEII standardized patients were waiting for us. CRAP. Forgot my ID…great start to the day Jess! I ran back to my room grabbed my ID and my water bottle that I saw sitting on my desk and hurried my buns down to the clinic for our briefing room.
As we waited in the hall for the supervisors to direct us where to go I realized I was already sweating andddd that I forgot to put deodorant on…Great…Okay, it doesn’t matter – just breathe…you got this…The bell rang – it was time to get to our first room…I read the stem on the door (the information sheet that tells us who the patient is (name and age) and their chief complaint) and I wrote down all the racing thoughts in my head and physical exams I didn’t want to forget. The next bell buzzed and it was time to enter the room. I sanitized my hands (Check: one mark down!) and introduced myself to the patient (check: another mark!). We got talking about his complaint and I took a very thorough history…so thorough that — oh … my… gosh…is that the time?!
“I’m just going to have you get up on the table here so I can do some quick examinations”
Yep…that’s right ladies and gents…I am a blabber. I spoke too long I only had about 7 minutes left for my physical exam!! I quickly did a pertinent exam (for confidentiality reasons I can’t share what the complaint was or what exams I did) and the harmonica that lets us know there is but 5 minutes left goes off…so I hardly finish that exam and I jump to vitals because this nervous doctor-to-be almost forgot those.. yep…Lesson: always keep your stethoscope ON you so you are reminded to do these first!!! I so quickly did his blood pressure (bilaterally), temperature…onto pulse rate anddddd BUZZZZZZZZZ – the examination is now over, please stop interacting with the patient…
I wanted to cry. I did a couple physical exams, half my vitals and a ridiculously long history. EFfff…This was definitely going to be my borderline patient encounter (meaning I was not completely competent…further meaning: did not pass this section). I felt awful…who the heck forgets half their vitals? The number of thoughts that were running through my head….that’s enough…
No time to cry Jess...I answered some questions on a piece of paper that you get after that patient encounter (related to the case or not) and then I moved on,..packed up my medical bag and got myself ready for the next patient. BEEEP time to move on to patient number two.
This time I rocked it, I came into the room and did all the things I wanted to do except this time I started doing the physical exam on the patient AS I asked important questions about the history of her complaint. That’s right, totally rocking my time management. I felt so confident doing her vitals, all the physical exams I wanted to do, I asked her (what I thought) was all the right questions and even had a minute left to just discuss what I thought was going on with her. There was no doubt in my mind that I rocked this patient encounter.
No time to get too excited though, when the buzzer went again I had to answer important questions and then move on to what is called the diagnostic station. I can’t tell you what my pathologies were but I had to listen to lung sounds, heart sounds, do a female pelvic exam, and observe some skin conditions. You have to make diagnoses and discuss lab tests you would order and also chart in some questions. This was tough but I think I had my head on straight when I went to do it all…
The exam, OSCEII, was now done…I’m sorry what? Yes…Done. Behind me. Completed. Finito! I felt pretty confident in myself…until I started speaking to a bunch of other people who had done things completely differently than me and thought different things…*insert sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach* I wanted to fall apart and I wanted to break down and cry – I thought I would have to re do this exam May 26th…and there is absolutely nothing wrong with having to do that but I just reeeeaaalllly didn’t want to pay for it again (yes, it’s not even the studying or doing it that would upset me the most, it’s the money to pay to do it again! :P). So here we are…in the back seat of the car and no one is aware in this car except me that the grade has been posted.
I put my phone down and cried after I checked my grade. I was not going to be doing this exam again May 26th…I did it…I received competency in all three sections of the exam…both patients…the diagnostic station…I …I literally rocked it. I put my hands on my mom’s shoulders in front of me and I said: “Omg…I passed OSCE…I friggin’ passed OSCE! OMG!!!!!!!”
And the celebrations continued that night! So let this be a message to YOU, the student who feels like they didn’t do it, like they couldn’t do it, or feels like they did it differently than someone else so they couldn’t have possibly passed. You can do it. You can SO do it! It’s about dedication, saying what you mean, doing what you think as a practitioner is the best thing you can do, and about being confident. You are not expected to do every physical exam in that room – you are expected to know what you’re doing and pick out some important stuff to make sure you do not have a person in your office who should actually be in ER…you CAN pass OSCEII…I did it, and I know that if my sweaty palms and shaky confidence can muster up the courage to be only mildly clammy and completely confident then you can, too! I conquered my mountains, I can see the other side, and my gosh I’m loving this view!
Enjoy OSCEII if you’re going to be going through it. I had an incredible time getting to know those two patients and I can’t wait to meet more.