IMG-Passed CS with high performance. My experience! - USMLE Forums
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  #1  
Old 03-20-2014
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Default IMG-Passed CS with high performance. My experience!

Hey there,
I just want to post my CS experience to help y'all out there who are prepping and for those who will prep for the CS exam.
Just for the record, I'm not a US citizen nor Am I a native speaker. However, I was able to get a high performance in Spoken English Proficiency 'SEP', which really surprised me. Thank you God! and hopefully, all of you will too!
Oh yeah, and the best part is that studying the exam DID NOT COST ME ANYTHING! (except for the First Aid book. That's it!)
Now, my experience goes like this.

The only material I studied was First Aid. And THAT IS IT.
How to study:
1-First of all, read about the CS exam to get to be more informed about how the exam is carried out. How are they graded in the three components of SEP, CIS and , there’s lots of info out there. But start with the official websites of ECFMG, etc.

2- Secure a partner to study with (preferably a Med student just like you who is preparing for the CS. However, this is not necessary). My Fiancee helped me out (she’s not a Med student). She read a lot about the CS and acted as my Standardized Patients ‘SP’ as well as my brother and some of my family.

3- Watch a few youtube CS encounters: There's a lot of online courses and videos. If they are free, then watch them. No harm in that! but honestly, you don't need more than First Aid. And maybe watch a few youtube videos regarding examining the patient, etc. (There are a lot of courses, workshops and videos that require payment. Some were waaay over-priced. I don't want to say that all of these are scams, but if you choose to pay for some CS material, make sure the conent will benefit you and make sure it is not a scam). In my experience, I did NOT feel the need for these services. There are some decent free youtube videos and for me, they were more than enough, but again, it's your personal choice.

4- Go through all the mini cases by yourself a few times.

5-After finishing the mini-cases and watching a few online free youtube CS encounter videos, you are ready to start practicing with your SP.

6- At first, it will be awkward and you’ll probably forget a few questions while taking history, but do be sure, the more you practice, the more you’ll master the encounters.

NOTE: Make sure when you start the long cases, TIME your encounter for 15 minutes, and ask your partner to tell you when you have 5 minutes remaining. (OR you can download an app on your smart-phone (I think it’s called ‘USMLE CS App’ or sth like that) that will automatically let you know that you have 5 minutes remaining (just as the CS actual exam would)).

7- While practicing with your partner, DO remember (and ask you partner, too) to notice your communication skills. Now, COMMUNICATION SKILLS are the essence of CS. DO NOT underestimate them. And again, to gain excellent communication skills, you MUST practice, practice, practice.
For example, practice knocking on the door before entering, introducing yourself in a proper manner, greeting the patient, shaking hands, eye-contact with patient, exercising empathy (and yes, as acting, you should exercise this!), offering water/tissue if patient coughs or sneezes, washing hands before examination, asking patient if he/she has any questions? And theee MOST IMPORTANT thing is to do CLOSURE. In case you run out of time, speed up examination or even skip some maneuvers and give closure at least 3-5 minutes and don’t forget to ask if he/she has any other questions at the end. Thank the patients, shake hands and head out.

8- By yourself, turn on your countdown timer to 10 minutes and practice YOUR patient notes.
You can practice the on the actual form on the exam that is available on the ECFMG website (just google ‘ECFMG CS patient notes’).
After practicing the long cases with my partner face-to-face and via Skype for 2 times, I was good to go.

Day of exam: Said my prayers, dressed smart, made sure all my papers are in order, took my lab-coat (imagine some of the examinees actually forget theirs and were provided with some), and started with first case. I was rather anxious but as you enter the room and start conversing with the actual SP, it all comes back to you so automatically because of all the practice.
Depending on your free-time and if you work or study, it shouldn’t take more than 7-8 week max (4-5 hours each day). This really varies so I know it doesn’t apply to everyone, but just make sure you’ve practiced all the First Aid’s long cases with a partner and you are good to go.

I cannot stress this enough! YOU NEED TO PRACTICE PRACTICE and again, YES, PRACTICE!

I hope my experience will have helped you. Best of luck. Believe in yourself and know that being an IMG is NOT a drawback. It just means you have to go that extra mile further than the AMG and know that many many IMGs go on to be exceptional doctors and YOU can too.

P.S. I know the post is really long, but really I just wanted to include everything that could be of help.

Last edited by Doc-H1; 03-20-2014 at 02:45 AM.
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  #2  
Old 03-20-2014
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Thank you for sharing your experience!
Can you please tell me where did you take the exam?
Did you find any cases that you did not come across in fa?
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  #3  
Old 03-20-2014
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Neuron View Post
Thank you for sharing your experience!
Can you please tell me where did you take the exam?
Did you find any cases that you did not come across in fa?
I took it in Houston. However, I do not believe the rumors that some centers have high passing rates than others (or some are more IMG -friendly than others). I know people who took the exam at other centers and passed.

Um! not really! the cases weren't exactly as the First Aid. But they were similar enough. I believe after passing that the intent is not to bring complicated and bizarre cases but to bring simple ones and test you communication skills.

The only strange question I got from an SP (that was not mentioned in First Aid). This 17-year-old boy who was doing drugs. He asked me NOT to tell his parents (since he was under 18, I wasn't sure if doctor-patient confidentiality applied here or not, but turns out (after researching after the exam) that it did and so my assurance that it will stay confidential was correct. Thank God!)
So yes hope this helps.
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  #4  
Old 03-20-2014
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Congrats on the pass! I took my exam on the 24 of jan, it was a big surprise to me that I failed the ICE component. I passed the CIS and SEP with a high performance. I would like to know what format did you use for the patient note and if u have any tips on it. I used the outline format and in reality after reviewing the first aid again I don't feel I did a bad job on my patient notes.
So any tips will be appreciated, I want to retake it ASAP.

Thanks,
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  #5  
Old 03-20-2014
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rzmpc View Post
Congrats on the pass! I took my exam on the 24 of jan, it was a big surprise to me that I failed the ICE component. I passed the CIS and SEP with a high performance. I would like to know what format did you use for the patient note and if u have any tips on it. I used the outline format and in reality after reviewing the first aid again I don't feel I did a bad job on my patient notes.
So any tips will be appreciated, I want to retake it ASAP.

Thanks,
How many differential diagnosis did you write for each case? And how much history and physical findings did you put to back up each differential diagnosis?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by exudate View Post
How many differential diagnosis did you write for each case? And how much history and physical findings did you put to back up each differential diagnosis?

It all depended on the case. For most 8/12 cases I put down 3 DD, but more than 1 for sure. I did back up each with at least 2-3 history finding and 1 or 2 on PE findings. I don't know exactly if some of my DD were off, but I really felt my performance was enough to pass. Not to mention that after I took the test the nbme released a new 2014 manual with some more info on what to do and not to do. For 2 cases I didn't remember the exact diagnosis so I used non medical term I think this really but me down!
Do u guys think I should review uworld's cases?

Thanks,
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  #7  
Old 03-20-2014
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rzmpc View Post
It all depended on the case. For most 8/12 cases I put down 3 DD, but more than 1 for sure. I did back up each with at least 2-3 history finding and 1 or 2 on PE findings. I don't know exactly if some of my DD were off, but I really felt my performance was enough to pass. Not to mention that after I took the test the nbme released a new 2014 manual with some more info on what to do and not to do. For 2 cases I didn't remember the exact diagnosis so I used non medical term I think this really but me down!
Do u guys think I should review uworld's cases?

Thanks,
wow that is scary. even with 3 diagnosis in most cases, they didnt pass you on ice...usmle is harsh...maybe your diagnosis were not correct? i dont know what else it could be.
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  #8  
Old 03-21-2014
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Quote:
Originally Posted by exudate View Post
wow that is scary. even with 3 diagnosis in most cases, they didnt pass you on ice...usmle is harsh...maybe your diagnosis were not correct? i dont know what else it could be.
How bad will it compromise my score if some DD would be incorrect? I don't want to retake it in phily just in case even tho I read that they send all the PN to philly to have them corrected.
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  #9  
Old 03-22-2014
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doc-H1 View Post
I took it in Houston. However, I do not believe the rumors that some centers have high passing rates than others (or some are more IMG -friendly than others). I know people who took the exam at other centers and passed.

Um! not really! the cases weren't exactly as the First Aid. But they were similar enough. I believe after passing that the intent is not to bring complicated and bizarre cases but to bring simple ones and test you communication skills.

The only strange question I got from an SP (that was not mentioned in First Aid). This 17-year-old boy who was doing drugs. He asked me NOT to tell his parents (since he was under 18, I wasn't sure if doctor-patient confidentiality applied here or not, but turns out (after researching after the exam) that it did and so my assurance that it will stay confidential was correct. Thank God!)
So yes hope this helps.
If a patient is a minor, do we ask them if they have consent for a consult?
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  #10  
Old 4 Weeks Ago
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Thanks for your advices!

I got much confidence from you!
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Thanks for the advice
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thanks for the advice
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