Written Finals, The Debrief

The written papers are over, and I appear to be still standing and breathing and whatnot.

The papers were fair, I suppose, even if not quite what I expected. A larger number of questions that were new to the question bank and not repeated from previous years. A much smaller number of questions that were directly related to immediate management – I was prepared, based on the pattern of questions that have been asked in the past, to spend half of my exam time talking about ABCs, and I don’t think I mentioned them once. A wildly disproportionate amount of neurology, I thought. A few bits and pieces that seemed to have come from the second year curriculum. There was one question about stroke that I had to work out backwards from first principles, and that part was reasonably manageable except that it went on to ask about which articles of the Human Rights Act applied to this patient’s case. I’ve learned a lot of medicine in five years, and I learned on Wednesday and Thursday that when I don’t know a particular bit of medicine then I can usually make a vaguely sensible guess based on the things that I do know and the things that are half-remembered from three years ago. I also learned that the thing that I cannot make up is articles of the Human Rights Act.

I got so little work done between papers that I may as well have not bothered. I sat with my notes for a few hours – literally, ‘sat with’, apparently hoping that something might go in by osmosis. The format of the written papers is such that anything that could have been in the second paper could also have been in the first paper, and so, technically, I was already as prepared as I was ever going to be. And in the end, the things that I wasn’t sure about on the second paper weren’t things that I would have ever thought to look at on Wednesday night, no matter how much work I’d done.

Overall, it could have been better but it could also have been a lot worse. I’m not prepared at the present time to say which way I think it’s gone for me, and I can’t do anything now but wait for the results in a few weeks. I got home from the second paper on Thursday and collapsed into bed for several hours, and then took yesterday to sort out a few of the real life things that have been sadly neglected over the last few weeks – grocery shopping, house cleaning, and putting an end to my rapidly accumulating fines at both the hospital and university libraries.

Today, OSCE revision has begun in earnest. In many ways, this is the harder part and, in my opinion, certainly the scarier part.

It doesn’t seem to have properly sunk in yet, even after having done those first exams, that this, this thing that I’m doing right now, really is it.



  1. I know you know this but the single most important thing is not to be too tired. One’s thought are so much straighter and ones reactions so much better when not totally exhausted. Don’t revise too hard.

    • Your advice is valuable and you speak the truth, Rosemary — the ability to think on my feet will be a necessary thing next week and I am better at that after a good night’s sleep than I am after, well, not one. It was good to see you this morning.

  2. I think the two rights are the right to life (keeping patient alive) and the right to individual liberty (right to refuse treatment).

    • Oh, that makes sense. Admittedly, I was reading the Wikipedia article in my post-exam more-than-a-bit-brain-dead stupor on Thursday afternoon, which probably isn’t the best way to study the finer points of human rights law, but that has quelled my insatiable curiosity, thank you.

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