Thursday, December 01, 2005

Exams, Exams, Exams

I have just finished my final exams for the year - much to my delight.

I had a research exam, a Human Responses in Crisis (Mental Health) exam and a clinical challenge (practical skills in lab situation - fail this = fail the whole semester and can't move onto the next years work)

My research and human responses exams went smoothly. My clinical exam went horribly!!!

We were reassured that there would be no tricks and that the lecturers wanted us to pass.

Lucky me I was the first of our cohort to take the test.

My "patient" (plastic dummy) was suffering from Asthma and was supposed to be on an oxygen mask - She wasn't. I introduce myself to my patient "Polly Pocket" (better than Peter Pumpkineater one of the other patients I suppose) I then check out the med chart - surprise! the order was illegal. Whats more it had been written up more frequently than recommended. I "contacted" the DR to check the order after getting the ok continued to administer the drug as a IV push. I was shaking so much I could hardly reconstitute the drug - to top it off the saline was expired!

After I had finished and done my documentation and reflection I was sure I had done terribly. I was stunned to recieve my mark of 29 out of a possible 30!!! So much for no tricks! But in the end it didn't matter.

I guess the moral of this story is believe in your abilities to practice safely, expect anything and be prepared for it, and breathe in and out often - passing out from anxiety won't help too much.

Why do we get so anxious? I must have done this exact thing 50 times, with real patients and real consequences if you get it wrong, still I couldn't convince myself not to panic.

I guess it is normal to have high levels of anxiety attached to such a critical test, knowing that this is a make or break moment. I wish more attention was paid to the work we do with real patients while we are on prac (pass or fail but ungraded, no difference between outstanding performance and just getting by) and less emphasis was placed on contrived clinical challenges.

Well that certainly feels better......


Kim said...

Nice blog! I love the blogs from is amazing that things are so similar in England, the US, Australia, Sinagpore...slight differences in the system, but everyone can relate to everyone else's experience!

Very nice!

Jo said...

Wow, The "crash" lab simulation sounds horrific. We have lab "check-offs" here in Texas. We basically do one skill with a med all the right way, but no errors are there to trip us up. I feel blessed.
Good for you for acing it!
very nice blog! (And I do love the template) ;)