7 Jul 2015

my study week #2: osce notebook

For this installment, I've chosen to introduce you to my OSCE notebook. OSCE stands for 'Objective Structured Clinical Examinations' and they are the exams I dread the most! They can be comprised of taking a patient's history, doing an examination on them or doing a practical procedure (such as cannulation or blood taking). There are loads of other things we can be assessed on and the most important thing is to practice, practice and practice. There are no other hidden tricks or quick fixes for OSCEs.

I opted to use a spiral bound B5-sized Muji notebook here and the narrow rule is perfect for my small child-like handwriting. It also seems to take Muji gels well too (I would hope so!).

Though practice is the most important thing in preparing for these OSCEs, that's not to say writing things down won't help - for example, I like to make lists of differential diagnoses for each presenting symptom, thus ensuring history taking is that bit easier. It helps make things more ordered in my mind and this can only be a good thing as it ensures that examinations and histories are that bit more slick.

Other things I like to make notes on are major features of each of these differentials: the ones you can see below are some of the differentials for jaundice. 

Like I said, no hidden tips for OSCEs aside from practice. I have formulated my own ways to tackle each station type and I'm sure each medical schools teach their own little tips and tricks too. I'm not sure I have enough tips and tricks to form a blog post though but once I do, I'll be sure to write a post about it. :)

One excellent way of gaining confidence and competence is to examine and talk to as many patients as possible on placement. Patients are interesting people and the more contact you have, the less daunting being a doctor will seem (though I am trying to convince myself with that as I'm now halfway through medschool and still sh*tting my pants at the thought of being a doctor in two years time if all exams are passed...!).


  1. Good luck. This brings back hideous memories of my physician exams. As you say, the real trick for OSCEs is practice, practice, practice. Examiners can tell (even through your sweaty brow and shaking hands) whether this is the first time you have done a lower limb neuro exam. On the plus side, you can practice on anyone - family members, friends, fellow students and even stuffed animals. Those lists are really helpful too. I used to use index cards and practice reciting the answers to friends. I'm sure there's one exam I only passed because I shouted out the word "empyema" as the bell rang for time.

    It's also important to keep perspective going into the exam - the examiners don't want to fail you and will gently (or ungently) nudge you in the right direction if you're off track. If you are polite to the patient, introduce yourself to them, don't intentionally cause them pain or make them fall over (and if you accidentally cause them pain, apologise sincerely!) then you are likely to pass.

    1. Thanks Cerebral! It doesn't help that some examiners look perpetually angry even if you do say the right thing haha. I had one who looked disappointed with everything I said and did and when I got my marks and feedback, I actually did really well in that station! We've been told examiners should have a poker face which is fine but an angry face?! We're nervous enough as it is haha. x

  2. Hi, Angela.
    I really like your studyblr posts, they are so inspiring!
    Keep the good work and good luck on your exams!