Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Essays and OSCEs

Which way?
Walking to University early in the morning
It's been that sort of week #pint
Unwinding with the student nurses in the pub, after the first week of simulated practice
Essay editing. More fun with a pink pen.
Essay editing, made more fun with a pink pen
Leyton Town Hall - Victorian splendour at its best. It is now a rather lovely pub. #Leyton #london
Leyton Techical pub - glorious on the outside
Tuesday. The children are away. Post work pint. Keeping our hand in with our pre-child skillz.
Leyton Technical pub - and glorious on the inside too
Coffee break time.
Walking past St Paul's during a coffee break
Lunchtime in Postmans Park - one of my favourite London haunts #secretlondon #londonparks
Lunchtime in Postman's Park
I need to tidy my desk.
Messy desk
A more orderly desk. Revising for an exam on Monday.
Tidy desk
The view from the sofa.  Am inside, revising. Would rather be outside, running. #exam
Revising on the sofa - my view
Revising for the OSCE
A surprise exam Good Luck card from Livvy - darling girl.
A surprise OSCE good luck card from Olivia
Exam DONE #phew
Celebrating the end of the OSCE in style
Sunset over the Olympic Park this afternoon
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.


  1. Oh my goodness what do the mannequins vomit?!

    Have you read A Shroud For a Nightingale by PD James (I may have mentioned it before -sorry)? A whodunnit set in a nursing school in the late 60s/early 70s. The victim is one of the student nurses who has volunteered to act as patient when they practise nasal feeding. She has to swallow the tube and be fed with milk, only it isn't milk...... Just the thing to read while you're on nights :-)

    Thank you for sharing your nursing experiences Nancy, they are absolutely fascinating and best of luck with your exam results.

  2. As someone who is on the other side of those OSCEs as an examiner, I always want my students to do well. I want to be able to put the marks down on the paper and sometimes am as nervous as the students! One of my research interests is in simulation and how it aids learning, how easy is it to 'transfer' those skills from the simulated lab to real practice. I really enjoy your insights Nancy.

  3. Congratulations on getting to the end of these exams Nancy, you must be relieved. I love your photos, it must be wonderful to be in beautiful London, so near to such lovely places. I hope you're able to have a little break from studying, even if it's only for a short while. I am so impressed with all your hard work.

  4. I think your pub trips sound Very well deserved xxx ps. why when I tidy my desk there is an awful mess of the floor beneath, and you don't seem to have that problem..............

  5. I've been missing out not stopping by your blog and seeing how everything's been going. I think I would be terrified (thinking about dummy practice then doing it for real), but I am also just fascinated by what you are doing. Love your snapshots of daily life, too (as always!).


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