All 11 entries tagged Exams

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February 24, 2021

The Last Day of Placement

I had my Prescribing Safety Assessment (PSA) last Monday and I would be lying if I said I didn’t find it tricky! It was a weird experience sitting the exam at home, made more difficult by the lack of the adrenaline of the exam hall to really get you into exam mode. However, I sat it and it’s done – results pending. No-matter the outcome, I’m simply happy to move on and get stuck into revision for real.

Last week was my final official week of medical-school placements as my surgical block came to end. Whilst it was a milestone moment I felt it was all rather anticlimactic as I have spent much of the last fortnight revising for my two prescribing exams instead of at the hospital. However, we did have a mock-OSCE on Wednesday which was arranged by the block lead and some of the doctors involved in teaching the block. Just to remind you of what an OSCE is, is a clinical-style exam where you do activities and have a discussion with the examiner. This was just a practice but actually it was really useful for getting back into the swing of doing timed OSCEs and also for gauging where we are in relation to the level expected of us for finals. It feels strange to say, but I quite….enjoyed the exam! It involved various stations including one station where we had to do a suture whilst being observed. We were given marks for each station and then the highest scoring candidate gets a certificate. I’m proud (and very, very surprised) to say that I got the highest mark! I have to say that I probably struggle with confidence generally, but receiving this good news gave me a little boost and definitely makes me slightly more confident going into finals revision. Added to this is the fact that the surgical block has re-ignited my passion for medicine in general. I do think that in my surgery block I have seen the best of what medicine can do for people – seeing people at their worst moments, their moments of pain and tragedy, but also seeing how medicine can improve people’s lives.

What will I be doing now placements have ended? The next 8 weeks are a revision block called Advanced Clinical Cases (ACC), which is largely self-directed in nature. This means that the medical school and hospitals are putting on activities (such as examination practice), but it is totally up to us what we decide to go to depending on our own learning needs. I’ve booked in a couple of ward sessions to practice my examinations and history taking and also a couple of procedure practice sessions (so practicing taking blood on mannikins) – as these procedural skills do come up in finals. Warwick uses the ‘spiral’ curriculum method, which basically means that essential topics are visited several times throughout the course. The topics we learned in Phase I and Phase II come up again in finals, just in more depth. This means that we go over the basics several times and become really confident at managing common conditions such as heart attacks, lung infections and diabetes, because we’ve learned the principles of these conditions throughout the course. The next 8 weeks are sure to be tiring, but I’m excited to learn and improve. Bring it on!

February 02, 2021


The last 2 weeks have been full of prescribing. Here at Warwick, we have to sit 2 prescribing exams in our final year – one of these is a national exam, the Prescribing Safety Assessment (PSA). All final year medical students in the UK have to sit the PSA, which covers the most common drugs and prescribing scenarios newly qualified doctors are likely to encounter. The PSA covers a lot of emergency situations such as prescribing drugs for conditions such as anaphylaxis, infections, and heart attacks. In addition, newly qualified doctors work on medical and surgical wards, so some of the questions ask about long term management of common conditions, including high blood pressure, kidney problems and lung conditions. Other questions may be based around the complications of commonly used medications – one common example is high potassium levels in the blood, which is a very common side effect of blood pressure medications. There are a LOT of medications which are used in medicine, which can be daunting to learn. However, the scenarios in the PSA exam mostly focus around the most common drugs and drug categories, meaning that revising for it is actually really useful preparation for life as a doctor. This is because we will be seeing patients who take these medications on a daily basis. The PSA is mostly theory based and asks about the theoretical knowledge of prescribing.

The other prescribing exam we final years here at Warwick have to complete is the Warwick Prescribing Assessment (WPA). This exam is slightly different to the PSA in that only Warwick students sit it, and the content of the exam is more practically based. So, for example, the PSA may ask a question about what drug you would use for x condition, but the WPA will have a drug chart and ask you to prescribe it for use. I quite like the WPA in that it tests the actual skills required for prescribing – its good practice. That first time being asked to prescribe an anti-sickness medication as a new doctor will be less scary knowing I’ve done it several times before in practice for this exam. I feel as though this is in keeping with Warwick Medical School’s ethos that graduates should be good doctors who can fit into teams well and do the job to a high standard from the very beginning. COVID-19 has had an impact on our WPA exam, so rather than sitting it in an exam hall, this year we are doing the same exam at home whilst being invigilated remotely. This of course still tests the same knowledge but means that we can have a cup of tea with us for the exam which will surely help with those exam nerves.

The prescribing exams can appear quite daunting – there are so many different medications and it is impossible to know all of the drugs (including uses, side effects, monitoring) in complete detail. However, I feel as though some of my prior experience may come in handy - I worked for 2 years in between my History degree and starting medicine. For one of these years, I worked as a dispenser in a hospital pharmacy where I dispensed lots of medications and looked at quite a few drug charts. Hopefully that extra experience stands me in good stead for these exams. I will keep you updated!

January 18, 2021

Care of the Surgical Patient

I’ve come into this block feeling refreshed and rejuvenated after the Christmas holidays and have just completed the first two weeks of my Surgical Patient block (my final specialist block of medical school!!) When I look back over the last three (and a bit) years, they have been filled with highs, lows and plenty of hard work – but I wouldn’t change it for the world. I feel as though things have come in a neat roundabout circle as my last block is surgery and Gastrointestinal medicine, and my first block in my first year covered the basics of this area of medicine. I, too, feel like I have come full circle in terms of motivation and drive. I started Year 1 with energy and determination and I again feel energised and ready to approach the next few months with the necessary determination to hopefully finish the course.

…Which is good as there is a lot to do. I have two prescribing exams at the beginning of February, and then written and practical exams in March. As well as this, I still have to engage with this block and learn enough about surgery to be able to cope as a junior doctor on a surgical ward. So, what have I been up to? Well, for this block I have not one, but two surgeons, making me slightly spoilt for choice. I have a general surgeon (so digestive system amongst many other things), and a urologist (male reproductive tract and male and female urinary systems) as my consultant supervisors. Last week I was lucky enough to attend general surgery clinic which I found really interesting, which sort of surprised me. I am still unsure what career path to go down but had thought general surgery wasn’t for me up until this point. I found the clinic really interesting and actually quite innovative with some of the novel techniques they use to sort digestive problems. One of these techniques is what they call a seton, which is essentially a specialised string which they put through false passages which helps the passage heal correctly – very cool stuff!

We have also had lots of tutorials from experienced surgeons in this block, and one of the most engaging of these was a session I had last week where we were taught how to suture. Suturing is one of the most basic surgical skills, but that doesn’t mean it is easy! All doctors need to be able to suture, of course surgeons need to be able to suture to close wounds, but also doctors working in A&E or General Practice need to be able to close small wounds and injuries if necessary. We had three experienced consultant surgeons teaching us how to handle the equipment and do a basic interrupted suture. This is where the needle goes through the base of the skin and is then tied above the skin to close the wound. We were also offered a challenge – one of the surgeons had created a laparoscopic training ‘game’. Laparoscopic surgery is commonly called ‘keyhole’ surgery as rather than large incisions, small incisions are made, and a camera and tools are used to complete the surgery. The game involved a webcam and two tools inside a box, and involved picking up rubber bands and putting them on small pegs. The person who did the most of these was the winner and would get a certificate, and unbelievably, I won! As I said earlier, I haven’t really considered surgery as a career in seriousness, but I found the game fun and have really enjoyed this block so far, so you never know…

June 25, 2019

The results are in….

I PASSED!!! I actually passed! I am now a second-year medical student. Typing those words is so surreal. I honestly didn’t think I would get here! I had basically convinced myself I had failed this year, I kept re-guessing all my answers and was a right state when we reached results morning. The results were due to be released at 10am so by 9:55am I was a wreck. I was just sat slumped against my bed nervously watching the clock tick over to 10am. I had to physically talk myself into opening the link with our results. I was terrified. I eventually made my thumb move the 1cm to my screen and opened the link:

“Congratulations, you have been deemed satisfactory for this set of examinations”.

I gasped. I read the line over and over again. I had passed. I was a second year! In complete honesty, I still think the med school are going to send out an email saying they had mixed up the results. I keep staring at the page as if it is playing tricks on me. In fact, I have it as my lock screen just so I can keep checking it’s not a dream. It is silly to dramatize this but I had fully convinced myself that I was never going to pass first time, that I was totally reliant on the re-takes.

I called my mum crying down the phone and I am not sure who was happier! Now I have to think about what I want to do over summer. I’ve been offered a place in GOSH summer school which helps students wanting to go into paediatrics and now I know I don’t have to re-take, I am really looking forward to that opportunity! I won a £100 ticket by simply re-tweeting their tweet, twitter is very handy!

We also had our summer ball which was before results meaning we could all relax without the weight of results looming over our heads. It was a fantastic evening and it was nice seeing my year all dressed up and looking amazing having had some sleep since exams ended. We happened to have it in the same venue as we had our welcome ball in which was a nice little circle to complete the year off! It was nice to celebrate with members from the other years as well as they had been as bigger part of our year as the lecturers here. We got a photo of our student seminar team that has to be one of my favourites here at med school. I got home quite late/early with a huge smile on my face knowing I had nothing to do the next day.

We also had our final open day of the year and it was a bittersweet day. It was lovely to meet everyone, but we were also working with Dr Roebuck in clinical skills who we had recently discovered was leaving us. Dr Roebuck’s lectures are infamous, and we are going to miss him next year, he has been a huge help to us all explaining concepts in the clearest way possible. I don’t think I am ever going to forget the human broad ligament or the lectures with chocolate, skittles, drinking competitions (don’t worry it was squash)!

I still can’t believe I have passed. I’m sitting here, still not believing it! The new first years will soon be upon Warwick for their offer holder’s day. I remember mine as if it was yesterday and I even found the running order in my room when I went home. It feels amazing to think I can actually start planning for next year now such as medic families, student seminars and neuroscience society without having to add the work “if” in front of my sentences. I want to run a science demo competition next year as it was something I loved back at my old university so I need to set the wheels in motion!

I guess now, it’s time for a complete break. I need to give my old brain a bit of a rest and to have some much-needed therapy time with my pets! My friend is working the fridge festival in Edinburgh, so I am hoping to pop up to Scotland to experience it! I am also watching Andrew Scott in the Old Vic over summer as well which is a small pick me up I bought before exams and cheers me up every time I remember I am going! A huge congrats to all my year, whatever the result, we got to the end! Here’s to an incredible summer and a slightly more relaxed second year!


June 12, 2019

If you need me, I’ll be sleeping.


Exams are finally over, and with that last sound of the buzzer marking the end of the OSCE station, I could feel the biggest grin stretching across my face. I have made it past the exam period!!

It has not been easy, and I can safely say this was the most stressful and exhausting two weeks of my entire life (and that includes my dissertation!). We had our first exam on Monday 3rd June. The SAQ. This had been the paper I was most worried about as it relied on us knowing the knowledge well enough to write it down. I had practised short answer questions over and over again. The exam was ok! There were some questions in which I did not know the answer to but I tried to logic it out and come to the best conclusion I could offer.

I was pretty happy afterwards, a couple of us went to the Duck on campus to have some food as a treat and just to have a break before hitting the books again. I walked back up to the MTC with Dan and we spotted a Heron walking around in the Tocil lake, apparently, they are meant to signify that a change is coming in your life and you need to embrace it. I hope that is a message of good change.

Day 2 and we hit the first MCQ paper. This. Was. Ridiculously. Hard. I was trying my best to apply my knowledge but I just felt deflated coming out of the room. Thankfully, I had an email saying I needed to pick up a parcel from the post room. It turns out my best friend from my old uni had sent me an exam survival package including hot chocolate, sweets and a book. It was the best pick me up I could have asked for. I tried to go back to the MTC to do some work but I was just frustrated at myself from the day’s events and I could not take anything in so I decided to go home and just fall into bed watching random videos on YouTube about asthma and ECG’s until I fell asleep.

Day 3, the final written! I was in such a good mood when I woke up. Today was the last day I was going to have to sit at a desk for a while, and I could not wait. I was still a bit apprehensive as I was worried about what was coming up based on the exam the day before. However, this exam was so much better, I could piece together the puzzle for most questions and others, I just had a good stab at.

Coming out of that exam was a huge breath of fresh air, I was ridiculously happy it was all over. The sun was shining and all of us headed to the Duck after to celebrate the end of writtens. It was a fantastic afternoon and I went to bed with a massive grin on my face. I had stopped worrying about how it had gone and instead I was just basking in the fact the exams were over.

Thursday arrived and this signalled the beginning of 6 days of “Hello my name is Abbie, I am a first year Warwick Medical Student”. The OSCE’s had arrived. We practised the exams on each other constantly, so much so I can probably do the Cranial Nerve exams backwards. This, however, did not stop me forgetting to ask the patients name and date of birth at the beginning of each station (facepalm). I am not sure how the OSCE’s went, it could go either way, the same with the writtens. I am just ridiculously happy it’s all over; I have not stopped smiling. I am looking forward to getting up tomorrow and doing what I want, when I want, or I could even not get up at all! (Though, that won’t happen, I am not someone to spend all day in one spot, I can barely last an hour in a lecture!).

The next two weeks will be about relaxing and enjoying any scrap of sun that comes my way. We have summer ball on Friday which I am really looking forward to and I am popping home to get a bit of respite from uni. The results are on the 24th so I guess I will find out how I did then, just keep your fingers crossed for me guys!


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Our Med Life blogs are all written by current WMS MB ChB students. Although these students are paid to blog, we don’t tell our bloggers what to say. All these posts are their thoughts, opinions and insights. We hope these posts help you discover a little more about what life as a med student at Warwick is really like.

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