The Objective Standardized Clinical Exam, affectionately known as OSCE to med students across the country, is one of the most unnecessarily terrifying parts of medical school. We all have to take Step 2 CS (Clinical Skills), and OSCEs are used to prepare us for this exam, similarly to how our classroom and rotations prepare us for our boards. As we’re still learning, it’s funny to see how stiff and awkward we can get around patients. But through time and practice, we get better. So, it’s in our best interest to just cast aside any worries and just go for it. Here are a few things I’ve learned to prepare for OSCEs:
- At our school, OSCEs are based on the recent curriculum. So think about the most common causes of health conditions in your last rotations or in your last classes. Think about how those present.
- Come prepared with differentials atop your mind. You’ll find that by having 2-3 diagnoses in your head, it makes the conversation a lot more structured.
- Your HPI is your best friend. When all else fails, resort to that.
- Wash your hands at the beginning. Just do it.
- When you do your write-up after leaving the room, start with the assessment and plan. That always takes more time than the HPI, and evaluators care mostly about the A&P.
- The time always goes faster than you expect it to. “Cut your standard interview time in half” is how I think of my interview with my patient.
- Most standard patients don’t have a medical background, so they follow a set grading rubric. They also often focus on your body posture, interpersonal skills, and empathy. So be mindful of those as well.
What pieces of advice would others give about OSCEs?