In Which A Sense Of Humour Is Essential

Right, two down, and I’m done now until Tuesday and taking the rest of today off.  Just one more week to go…

The comedy moments of this week’s exams have included:

  • On Monday, I arrived early and went into Starbucks for twenty minutes, with the intention of avoiding the pre-exam talk of my fellow students. I didn’t count on recalcitrant ex-members of the faculty who really ought to know better than to sneak up on jumpy students. (In his defence, I don’t think he thought that he was sneaking.) I’m told that I looked as if I wished I were a million miles away. Yes, preferably on a beach, holding a drink with a little umbrella in it.
  • The person who was responsible for informing us of the rules and leading us to the first stations of our first exam, who had evidently never been involved in any sort of medical school exam before. (This happened in my third year OSCE, too, when one of the invigilators remarked on how quiet and professionally dressed all of us were.) The particular gems were, “So, have you done any of these OSCE thingies before?” and, “Oh, you must be so excited to know that you’ll be finished after this!” “Not quite,” I said drily, as I tried to ignore the butterfly farm that had set up in my innards. “There are another three days for us each to do after this one.
  • I had ninety seconds or so left at the end of one of my stations, and the examiner asked casually if everything had worked out for my job. I spent a full minute trying to figure out why on Earth he’d be asking that, and then remembered that he’s my FPAS reference.
  • A roadworks crew who decided that 2am, an hour after I’d finally overcome my pre-exam insomnia and five hours before I had to wake up for one of them, was a good time to start drilling holes in the part of the Clydebank Expressway that is twenty feet from my bedroom window. This was one of the moments where if I hadn’t laughed, I’d have cried.
  • In a station that lasted for eleven minutes rather than five minutes, which meant that I was to work through the two whistles signalling the station change, another candidate took a wrong turn and ended up in my room. It’s slightly disconcerting to have a friend come in when you’re in the middle of examining someone, particularly given that candidates are under specific instructions not to talk to one another.
  • In another station that lasted for eleven minutes, I had a few minutes left at the end and the examiner started to grill me on different kinds of murmurs. I don’t think that those questions were actually on the marking schedule, but, in any case, I dug such a big hole for myself that he eventually raised an eyebrow very high and said, “Um, OK, I think it’s better that you just stop talking now.”
  • Forgetting that, in a situation in which I’m the F2 on call (as per my instructions) rather than the faintly useless medical student (as per my day-to-day life), I am actually allowed to give my patients medication. This led to one station in which the whistle blew and I ran for the door, shouting, “I want to give her some morphine and metoclopramide, too!”
  • The very sweet and very very deaf patient who, upon being asked how long he had been suffering with his breathlessness, said, “Since 1947, my dear.”
  • I fled one room, read the candidate instructions posted outside the door to the next one (which was to be held in the store room), seized the door handle and marched inside, and promptly jumped three feet in the air as paper towels and boxes and piles of suture material came tumbling with a clatter from the high shelves down to the floor. Rarely in an OSCE does the patient need to ask the candidate if she’s all right to go on.
  • I could not for the life of me remember who I was meant to be. This wasn’t helped by the fact that that seemed to change at every station. I was a psychiatrist, at one of them. It led to several instances of, “Hello, my name is Beth Routledge and I’m, er… “[cranes neck to reread the candidate instructions] “… oh, I’m your GP/one of the junior doctors/a final year medical student.”
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8 comments


  1. These are such gems. You could honestly write a book…

    DO rest up. Cheers and prayers ascending; so sorry you’re missing the fun Saturday, and can’t wait ’til you can rejoin us.

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