quilavastudy asked:

Hi, I'm a 2nd year medical student in the UK! I was just wondering if you had any tips for OSCE style exams - my med school is obsessed with them (we have way more OSCEs than written exams) but I don't seem to be able to get the knack of them. I know the stuff, but I'm always awkward in them and get brain freezes. Thanks!


Ha I know a thing or two about being awkward and getting brain freezes in OSCEs. In my OSCE on wednesday I was interpreting an ECG and I was trying to work out the rate. I was doing the thing where you count the number of squares between two R waves and then do 300 divide the number of squares. My ability to do mental maths COMPLETLY evaporated and I was just sat there going “so the rate is 300 divided by 7… what’s 300 divided by 7?!?! um um um um um” and the examiner looked at me like I was completly insane and was just like “ok 300/7 is good enough, lets move on”.

So embarrasing.

So I know the feeling!

Here are my list of tips to passing OSCEs!

1) Practice your examinations as much as physically possible

The scary thing about OSCEs is that there are a lot of variables you can’t control such as scary examiners, uncooperative patients etc… One thing that is in your control though is being able to deliver a slick perfomance of your examinations. It might not feel like it but it is really obvious when you are observing someone if they are someone who is confident and knows what they are doing vs someone who just learnt how to do a cardiovascular examination last wek. 

When you are nervous it is really easy to get wound up  but if you have the examination bits solid in your mind you can sort of put your brain on autopilot which definately helped me

2) Practice with other people and time yourselves

Three is a good number for OSCE practice so you have one person being the patient, one being assessed and one being the observer. Time yourselves! We had 10 minutes for a history and 8 minutes for examinations so practice sticking to those time limits and give each other lots of feedback.

3) Practice data interpretation with other people

For our osce we had a data interpretation station which could be anything from ECG, radiology, interpreting ABGs, blood results etc. It’s one thing to be able to look at a CXR and go yep thats a pneumothorax. It’s a very different skill to be able to present an X ray in the format that an examiner wants and to be able to approach these things in a systematic way.

4) Fake it! Confidence is everything

OSCEs are one big performance. It’s such an artificial environment and the best way to pass an OSCE is to treat it like you are putting on a show. 

On the day choose something to wear that makes you feel confident. When I am about to go into the first station I always  feel sick with nerves. Just take a deep breath, put on a smile, open that door and walk in like you are in control and you know exactly what you need to do.

5) If you don’t know the answer to what they are asking you just keep talking

This might not work for everyone but my policy is if I don’t know the answer, I will keep verbalising my thought process and try and logically work the answer out. Often if you are going along the right lines, some examiners will try and push you in the right direction. The examiners want to give you marks so I think my policy is the more I say, the more chance I have of getting to the answer they are looking for

6) Remember that the examiners are on your side!

They want to pass you, regardless of whether they have a poker face or smile at you none of them are out to fail you.

7) Summarise

In history taking stations, if you get stuck a helpful thing to do is to summarise the information you have already gained from the patient. It often buys you time to think of the next question.

Also there is no shame in saying ” I just need a minute to gather my thoughts” and pausing for a few seconds.

8) Management

If you have management stations in your OSCE practice looking things up in a BNF and writing out a management plan within your time constraints. It’s easy to get in a flap if you aren’t familiar with a BNF so again practicing this within a time limit is something I found useful this time. 

So this has turned into a bit of an essay but I hope some of this was useful! If you want any help with a particular aspect of the OSCE/ particular type of station that I haven’t talked about here drop a message in my ask box.


My big black back, in all it’s gruesome detail! This is the result of a few months hard graft with my mate Lee Pound of OSC Tattoo in Stourbridge. As well as being a great person and general legend, Lee is an amazing artist who has been tattooing me for a few years now. If you’re ever about the Birmingham/Stourbridge area, I suggest you pop in to OSC and have some art. These pictures were taken by Jay Dutton, my best friend, and an amazing photographer. Reblog this photo set and help me get my friends work out there.

Thanks all!


Shadow of the Homophobe

When I first learned that Orson Scott Card was homophobic, I subscribed to the “but it doesn’t affect his writing!” view. This was while the “Shadow” series was coming out, and while it was pulpy and inconsistent with the original Ender series, I enjoyed it well enough… it was like decent quality fan fic of the Enderverse, basically.

But then I got to a point in one of the books (Shadow of the Hegemon, maybe?) where the protagonist, who up until that point had been determined that his genetically engineered traits should die with him, realizes that he MUST breed. Why? Because he’s had a flash of his super-intuition—which the books thus far have demonstrated gives him infallible if somewhat random insight—that the point of life is to find someone of the opposite sex to reproduce with, and anyone who denies this is sick in the mind and any happiness they claim to feel is a lie or delusion.

You know what that is?

That is Orson Scott Card’s views on human sexuality, inserted into the middle of the novel as Unassailable Fact.

In the Enderverse, Orson Scott Card’s views on heterosexual supremacy and the ill/deranged status of anyone who isn’t a married sexually active heterosexual are CANON.

That book is on a very short list of books I didn’t finish reading. Usually it’s physically painful for me to put down a book unfinished for long. This one made me sick to my stomach to continue reading.

I’ve posted about this before and had people rush to tell me that the scene in question wasn’t “about” gay people, it was about the protagonist and his needs. Well, yes, but unless we believe that this one intuitive flash alone was wrong, the book establishes that his needs are the needs of every human being. And no, it’s not “about” gay people… it’s about straight people. Orson Scott Card doesn’t believe that gay people exists. You know how some fundamentalist Christians don’t believe anyone doesn’t believe in Christ and their God, we’re all just naughty children who are pretending not to out of spite? That’s how Orson Scott Card views queer people. And in the world of Ender’s Game, he’s right. 

Think about how… for lack of a better word… childish a writer has to be to set up a multi-book plot arc that culminates in the phlebotinum of his imaginary universe proving him right. He out Randed Ayn Rand. 

And once that really blatant example was in front of my face, I realized that wasn’t the only time that the idea that there’s an inexorable force that draws men and women together to form babbies and it cannot be safely denied cropped up in his writing. Just never as blatantly.

Today, being a bit more mature and knowing what I know of the extent of his activities, I would have stopped reading him even if I could believe that his writing isn’t affected by his views. But Orson Scott Card the homophobe doesn’t stop being Orson Scott Card the homophobe when he puts on his writer’s hat. When you read his work, you are reading homophobic works.


Geeks OUT’s Skip Ender’s Game campaign got a shout-out on The Huffington Post and later on The Wrap. It’s great to see the support it gets from people appalled by Card’s ridiculous stance on homosexuality. Then, there are the haters. We’re already getting some really gross stuff posted on our Facebook page. Getting called fascist (and worse) by internet crazies is alarming, but sort of easy to dismiss. What’s sadder, and kind of disappointing, are the people who seem sympathetic to our objections, but miss the point of the campaign.

They see it as an attack on the work itself, and as an affront to the author’s right to his own opinion. Let’s be clear: It’s about money. The book could be the most enlightened, uplifting, tear-jerking novel ever printed, but the author is an anti-gay activist, who sits on the board of National Organization for Marriage

As a prominent and wealthy board member of NOM, it’s likely that Orson Scott Card lends his financial support to their efforts. He is a producer of the film Ender’s Game, and stands to make even more money from the film based on his book. 

As new states prepare to introduce marriage equality legislation, be sure that NOM will be there there, putting millions of dollars into campaigns that demonize and disenfranchise queer citizens. Don’t let those dollars come from your pockets. It’s just a movie. Skip it. 



For about a year now, Alb and myself have been working on our vests. Dying, studding and patching these beauties has almost become an art form. A top notch art form if you ask me. But,these babies still need some work, theres more ideas and patches to put into these! But, we may also have to start seconds. I have way to many cool patches atm…