Sunday, December 20, 2009

Objective Structured Clinical Exam



Despite the likelihood that I am actually making a fool of myself rather than providing a form of enlightenment, I have posted my personal OSCE experience for your viewing pleasure.

Medical Training

In preparing for the exam, I searched the internet for similar scenarios and was surprised that there are no amateur versions around. Perhaps that makes this the first student version available to be mocked, ridiculed and berated. It is in no way flawless, especially since it was our first OSCE experience. Nonetheless, I rather enjoyed the opportunity to "act" the part and play diagnostic detective if only for a few minutes.

For this exam, the patient was assigned to have strep throat, so it makes me chuckle in embarrassment that I submitted him to the Romberg test. In my defense, I was trying to stall with the last couple minutes to make sure there were no other exams I wanted to perform. Once we leave the room, early or not, we are not permitted to return. Fortunately, my assessment and plan were on target with the premeditated ailment.

Anxiety driven exams certainly test us under pressure, and we tend to make irrational decisions as a result. I did not have enough time to test for somatic dysfunctions as I ran out of time. If I was better prepared, I could have finished the physical early with a few less tests in order to leave time for the SOAP note. Not realizing how long the written portion would take, I learned the hard way that 9 minutes is not much time at all.

In time I have learned to hone in on the critical findings and tests to maximize the use of my time. The SOAP note information rolls out of my pen with greater fluidity and I now have a little more confidence than is portrayed above. At least this was an educational and preparatory experience, the real thing this early in the game could have been much worse.

Board Prep Question of the Week

A 48 year-old female presents with progressive shortness of breath and anxiety. She has no notable prior medical history, and on physical exam, auscultation reveals an opening snap over the cardiac apex followed by a mid-diastolic rumble. The most common cause of her disease process is which of the following?

A. chronic hypertension causing dilatation of the left ventricle
B. repeated attacks of Streptococci causing valvular lesions
C. primary pulmonary hypertension causing atrial dilatation
D. a congenital atrial-septal defect causing chronic hypoxemia
E. a congenital bicuspid valve causing increased afterload of the left ventricle

Answer & Explanation

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