Wednesday, May 14, 2008


foreword: this post will be very draggy and contains some medical jargons as I just want to use it for documenting purpose so that I could refer back to it one day.

I was one of the student helpers for the third year exam OSCE in CAH. As the student helpers, we were subjects of physical examination and this gave me valuable experience to know how the OSCE mark scheme is like, to observe the scenes behind the OSCE exams and to have a greater understanding of the exam procedure.

I was the subject for thyroid examination and the BP measurement. Some of the students who came in were calm and some were messed up and too nervous to think of anything. The examiner himself is a first-timer in examining the OSCE and he was nervous himself too! haha. But he was a nice chap to talk to. He told me that most of the students had their examination overly done. Students perceive each and every examination as the whole process and not performing specific test for specific examination. For instance, they were testing capillary refill, looking for xantomata, splinter haemorrhage, anaemia and other tests which were unrelated to thyroid examination. One guy was looking for koilonychia, dupuytren contracture (?!!!!) in me. -.-" I was scratching my head, hmmm....this is not a GI examination but a thyroid examination!

We also get to rate the students on their attitude and professionalism. I gave most of the 5 but one guy was quite messed up with his examination so I gave him a 3.

Thyroid examination was the first cycle. In the second cycle, I was in the BP measurement station. My poor arm had to be squeezed until numb a few times while the students take the BP. The examiner asked everyone this qn, 'how do you choose the cuff size?' Some students were obviously well prepared as they gave the answer without hesitation. Some crapped through by saying that 'oh, this is obviously an adult and I would choose an adult size one for her and the size can be checked by looking at the symbols on the cuff.'

There was a clear distinction between the B and C. But a fine line of difference between A and B. Most people who got B followed the mark scheme answer. But those who got A did extra stuff. I guess it depends not only on how methodological and orderly your procedure is, but also how well you explain the BP measurement and asking the patient 'are you feeling ok?' constantly. One girl got extra points for asking, 'do you have any questions to ask me?' Not all the students were good though. There was one student who couldn't feel my brachial pulse! He was kinda 'poking' me using his fingers to look for the pulse instead of palpating and the feeling for it using the tips of the fingers. Besides, he couldn't take my reading correctly and he made out a BP reading which obviously was very wrong. (any reading >10mmHg of the actual reading will not get any marks).

There were 2 6-minute gap in between the stations and I got to talk to my examiner. He was a Leeds graduate deciding to become a GP finally. He said, 'you must take an intercalated degree. Must.' Then he went out to say that in the application form, there are 6 questions. Qn 3 and 4 are the hardest as it looks into your experience of doing any research and teaching. This examiner nonchalantly told me, 'I applied for 8 jobs and got all 8 interviews.' Wow. Then he said he actually had 4 degrees ( one degree was intercalated) and he was a demonstrator for the anatomy teaching classes. Hmm...this got me into thinking. I haven't got any experience in teaching yet except for the occasional one-minute 'teaching' in RM when I tell my colleagues how to to sort the letters.

okie. I guess that's all for my experience as a student helper. We were paid quite well for it (one 1.5 hour cycle 20 pounds) and I could have stayed there for the whole day it not because I have another job which requires me to go off early. :(


ngyangmin said...

i hate taking BPs. i always cannot hear the systolic korotkofs.

Anyway u're not gonna intercalate rite?

Janice said... too. Hv to keep practising then. Nope. Dun think am intercalating

ngyangmin said...

so how? uk damn competitive now la

Janice said...

Another option is to study masters after I graduate and work part-time as a doctor. Then I will be able to fund my own studies during that time. One of my friends is during his phd now and he's a liver surgeon just doing on calls.

are you going to intercalate or wana go US work?

ngyangmin said...

didnt want to intercalate. now a bit interested. time is a problem. i can bear another 3 yrs, but 4 yrs.... abit too long la. dad sounds 'a bit' reluctant but asked me to do whatever i think is right. Anyway the application is over. even if i want to intercalate i have to intercalate after 3rd year. but i reluctant wanna break my clinical years la.

Very very unlikely gonna go to US. Need to take seperate exam plus it's very far away from home.

Spore is a good choice. But it'll be competitive there as well.