RACP exams

“Congratulations. You have been successful in the 2014 Clinical Examination.”

Getting through the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) examinations this year has been a long, difficult, but ultimately rewarding journey. More than a year of near-constant study, the evening lectures at work and online, the Deltamed course in Melbourne, the written exam at Wentworth Park (with the plastic picnic chairs!), a brief period of respite after passing the written, the many evenings and Saturday mornings spent at the hospital practising cases, and finally the clinical exam held interstate (in my case Greenslopes Private Hospital, Brisbane)…

Greenslopes Private Hospital

My colleagues and I are immensely grateful to everyone who taught and supported us over the past 18 months – we couldn’t have done it without you. Thank you!

Photo credits: Dr Kieren Po (photos 1 & 3), Dr Priyanka Sagar (photo 2)

A tale of four tutors

Four tutors at two Group of Eight universities in Sydney in the past two weeks: an allegory on some of the qualities of good teachers…

Tutor A teaches medicine. Although qualified in a clinical health science, she had little understanding of the subject material nor demonstrated any convincing attempt to do so. She did not attempt to establish rapport with the students in her class.

Tutor B teaches clinical sciences. Whilst clearly qualified in the majority of the subject material taught, he then attempted to teach some material which he didn’t understand (in a field where some of the graduate students in the class were qualified). He did, however, attempt to establish rapport with the students in his class with some success.

Tutors C & D teach in the Faculty of Pharmacy at USyd and the Faculty of Medicine at UNSW respectively. Although both are relatively young, they proactively ensure that they each have a thorough knowledge and understanding of the material taught. Appreciating the importance of connecting with students, they both make a high priority of establishing good rapport with the students in their respective classes.

Who would you prefer as your tutor?

When two SCORPIOs get together

One of the key features of clinical learning at Sydney Medical School are the SCORPIO sessions (SCORPIO apparently stands for “structured, clinical, objective, referenced, problem-orientated, integrated and organised”). With the exception of a few pseudo-SCORPIOs during haematology block, I’ve generally found SCORPIOs to be great learning experiences and I’m quite fortunate that my clinical school reputedly organises more SCORPIOs than the other USyd clinical schools.

Each SCORPIO session generally starts with a short introductory session to outline the session, after which students divide into small groups and rotate around several teaching stations. Each station features either a patient with a certain clinical presentation to solve/discuss – e.g. a young lady with immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) – or known clinical signs to elicit – e.g. a gentleman with a pronounced aortic valve ejection systolic murmur and carotid bruits.

For endocrinology block, the clinical school has organised a SCORPIO each week in lieu of clinical diagnostic skills tutorials. By coincidence our postponed neurology SCORPIO was also held this week, which meant that we had two SCORPIOs today.

Neurology SCORPIO

  • Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease
  • L5 sensorimotor radiculopathy
  • Brachial plexopathy secondary to radiotherapy

Endocrinology SCORPIO 1 (thyroid disorders)

  • Graves’ disease
  • Toxic multinodular goitre
  • Hashimoto’s thyroiditis

After enduring the frustration of most of this week, today’s double SCORPIO clinical day provided a welcome breath of fresh air.