USydMP Stage 2 OSCE

After the hurdle of the Stage 2 Barrier, our final assessment for the year was the objective structured clinical examination (OSCE). For second year University of Sydney Medical Program (USydMP) students this meant a barrage of twelve stations where a specific history, examination or procedural skill was examined.

Day 1 stations

  • Paediatric gastrointestinal history
  • Diabetes history
  • Chronic renal failure history
  • Abdominal pain history
  • Lymph node examination
  • Visual acuity examination

Day 2 stations

  • Drug & alcohol history
  • Arthritis history
  • Chest x-ray interpretation
  • Neurological motor examination
  • Cardiovascular examination
  • Respiratory examination

During a USydMP OSCE, you start outside the exam room and have a minute to read the instruction sheet for that station, then proceed into the room and have six minutes to complete the task with the “patient” and examiner. You then rotate to the next station and repeat the procedure until all stations for the day have been completed. The timeframe of the OSCE often makes the task quite rushed and doesn’t allow time to think clearly – you’d be surprised at how hard it is to calculate standard drinks and pack-years under pressure, for example. It’s quite an intense experience!

At my clinical school they often get the international elective students to act as patients for OSCEs. This proved to be quite interesting when: (i) my “patient” for the lymph node examination didn’t really understand English directions, which meant that I had to improvise with non-verbal cues; and (ii) I was initially unsure whether my “patient” for visual acuity examination was actually having trouble reading the letters on the Snellen chart or whether she was just hesitant about the English name of the letters she was reading out.

In any case, ostensibly we’re now on a seven week summer break. Echoing Miss G’s sentiments on the OSCE, however, it won’t really feel like holidays until 12 December when results will come out – then second year will finally be over!

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.

NAPSA Congress Sydney 2008

I was asked to take the official photo for the National Australian Pharmacy Students’ Association (NAPSA) Congress 2008, this year hosted by the Sydney University Pharmacy Association (SUPA) – both organisations with which I have had a fair bit of involvement over the years.

NAPSA Congress Sydney 2008 official photo
NAPSA Congress Sydney 2008 official congress photo
(click on image for full-size version)

To achieve this image, I borrowed a Canon EF-S 10–22mm f/3.5–4.5 USM ultrawide zoom lens from a friend and performed a perspective correction during post-processing in Adobe Photoshop. A commercial Fujifilm Frontier Digital Minilab was used to prepare 30 cm x 20 cm prints, which were distributed to congress delegates.

It was also a great honour to have had the opportunity on the day to meet Her Excellency Professor Marie Bashir, Governor of New South Wales and Chancellor of the University of Sydney. As an adolescent psychiatrist, Professor Bashir is highly regarded amongst medical students at Sydney Medical School and I found, during our conversation, that her reputation is indeed very much deserved.

Update (10 Feb 2008): Full-size NAPSA Congress Sydney 2008 photo now available for download.