There are lots of things I wish I'd known before my second and third-year OSCEs. This blog post aims to articulate some of them.
- The most important one for me is I wish I could tell myself to not drink coffee before my third-year OSCE. The adrenaline of OSCE day will do all the increasing of your heart rate you could ever possibly want or need. In fact, I would probably advise myself no stay far away from caffeine from the whole run-up period.
- A close second would be to get as much sleep as I possibly could in the run-up to OSCE day. For me, I know an extra hour of sleep far outweighs the benefit of an extra hour of revision. However, it is very hard to remember this in the midst of last-minute revision.
- The most important and useful things are the 'practical in the hospital things'. Things like knowing how a procedure actually works and what it means, being able to prescribe things that are commonly prescribed, knowing what a patient wants to know and how treatment affects their lives.
- Confidence and regaining confidence after a wobble are key. You can't change anything that has past so it's not worth thinking about! There's supposed to be things you don't know there - this is how you'll learn and grow. Often a lot is in your head and a station you think went badly you may have done really well and vice versa.
I would also make sure I was investing more time into methods of preparation I found were working the best for me. The most useful types of preparation for me personally were:
1) Taking focused histories from 'undifferentiated' patients (for example in A&E or GP).
2) Practising examinations and histories with friends.
3) Videoing or recording myself when practising with friends so I could see how I was coming across to the actor patient or examiner and reflect on how I was phrasing questions.
4) Using resources such as 'Speaking Clinically' to gain further insights into experiences of patients with different conditions and using YouTube for further clinical signs I may not have come across on placement.
These are some of the things I wished I knew before my second and third year OCSEs, and they are likely to be very personal to me but I hope they might help someone. I think the main thing is to keep checking whether things are working for you and adjusting accordingly!