You know what they say…pass it along…so after my two tries at the Mrcp Paces I finally passed in on the third try. After all that I have learned from this experience I feel I should inform you to help you hopefully from avoiding the pitfalls I fell into. So for what its worth here is some of what I think is important information…
Think before you speak.
Don’t blurt out your answers. Stay calm think about what the examiner is asking then answer calmly. Presentation and Study go hand in hand. Don’t lose sight of what the paces exam is focused on which is the common diseases and not the rare diseases as those in the first two parts of the written exams. Follow these steps for this segment…
For the study sector
In respect to the individual branches of the exam study about sixof the most common diseases that are most often found in the exam. Focus all your studies on these paying attention to details. If you do this you will not be taken off guard by the examiners Line of questioning.
For the presentation sector
By knowing the most common diseases first you will be able to utilize them when you are questioned about differential diagnosis.
Don’t rush through your inspection like you can’t wait to get it over with. There are clues possibly around your patient area that might assist you in your diagnosis. For example if the patient is a chest case then there may be sputum pots or inhalers close by. Thyroid patients often have a glass of water in the vicinity. Use these as indicators for your diagnosis.
Let go of the past.
When you have completed one station, then forget about it. You need all of your time to prepare for the next one. Clear your thoughts while you focus on the next station especially if this is the communication skills and history taking segment. You are only going to have five minutes to read the clinical evaluation paper. You have to put the key factors of this to memory and compose your conversation that is coming up around this.
Put on a good front.
The last thing you want to do is look nervous or insecure. Confidence in what you are doing paints the right picture of you to the examiner.
Conduct yourself accordingly.
This specifically refers to the client contact. Upon the conclusion of your examination thank the patient then turn away from him. You are now addressing the examiner. Keep your eyes focused on him. The examiner will ask you what you have discovered in your examination. Avoid glancing at the patient. Keep your eyes on the examiner and answer him directly.
Be clear and be heard.
Don’t mumble it shows a sign of insecurity. Don’t yell either. Concentrate on keep your tones as normal speech when conversing with both the patient and the examiner.
Don’t use your imagination.
If you have any doubts about some possible signs you may have observed during your examination don’t mentions them. Only focus on what you are sure of. You don’t want to be expending knowledge on something that isn’t there. This is important as it is better to miss something then fabricate it to the examiners.
Remember your presentation is about the patient at hand and his/her specific condition, not the ailment in general. In others words if the patient suffers from COPD, then talk about the specific criteria that the patient is presenting with this condition. Not the generalities of COPD. For example nebulizers and intravenous antibiotics, and corticosterioid would be the treatment for a patient in exacerbation. So you would focus on this.
If your patient were stable then your course of treatment would probably be inhalers, so therefore you would talk about this. In other words talk about your patient and his problem. Not the problem in clinical terms.
Make your patients your best friend.
This is in reference to the purposes of practice. You need to have lots of practice so you are going to be confident in your examination during your presentation. Practice makes perfect so do so every opportunity you can.
Keep your chin up.
At the conclusion of it all don’t second guess yourself. Every examiner is different and have their own acceptances of mistakes and errors. It may be that you made a serious error but balanced against the right things you did it may not fail you. Such was the case for me. Most often it is the overall performance that counts. Many thanks for the opportunity to share this with you and I am looking forward to returning with more hints of dos and don’ts for paces.