|Walking to University early in the morning|
|Unwinding with the student nurses in the pub, after the first week of simulated practice|
|Essay editing, made more fun with a pink pen|
|Leyton Techical pub - glorious on the outside|
|Leyton Technical pub - and glorious on the inside too|
|Walking past St Paul's during a coffee break|
|Lunchtime in Postman's Park|
|Revising on the sofa - my view|
|Revising for the OSCE|
|A surprise OSCE good luck card from Olivia|
|Celebrating the end of the OSCE in style|
|Sunset over the Olympic Park, on my way home|
I have had a very full few weeks of essay writing, exam revising and some excellent trips to the pub. The exam I've just done was an OSCE (pronounced oss-key), which stands for Objective Structured Clinical Exam. An OSCE is a practical exam, used in medical and nursing degrees, where we have to perform a clinical skill in front of the examiner whilst giving a running commentary about what we are doing and why. It's a pretty terrifying ordeal, and endless books are published to help medical and nursing students pass them.
For this OSCE we were given a list of nearly 60 clinical skills which could be examined, and we didn't know until we walked into the exam room which one we'd have to do. The whole process made me simultaneously realise how much I've learnt since this time last year (give an intramuscular injection? yep - fine) and how much I still have to learn (insert a naso-gastric feeding tube? yikes). In the end, the skill I had was a fairly basic one, so they were expecting me to know it very well indeed. I have no idea how I've done, but I'll find out in four weeks' time.
To prepare for our OSCE, and for our next hospital placements which start next week, we've just finished two weeks of simulated practice. This is where we spend all day in the University's mock wards and clinical rooms, in full uniform, learning new clinical skills, and practising the ones we know already, on mannequins (if they're invasive), or on each other (if they're not). Simulated practice is always a very intense fortnight, where we are overwhelmed with information and new skills, and have to discuss and act out many different scenarios.
We were let loose on the advanced mannequins for the first time - these ones had pulses and blood pressure, and could be programmed to suddenly vomit or go into cardiac arrest. The mannequins are cool, but scare me slightly - they have very glazed eyes. On the very last afternoon I had to catheterise my mannequin, and made a complete botched job of it. This is why simulated practice is both reassuring (it's just a mannequin, not a real patient) and necessary (I'm going to have to catheterise real patients very soon without getting it wrong). It's probably also why the mannequins have scary eyes - the result of many hundreds of student nurses practising their catheterisation and resuscitation skills on them over the years. They could probably do with a pint of cider after two weeks of simulated practice, too.