I finished my CS exam recently and wanted to jot down a quick few things before I forgot the experience completely.
How I prepared: I only did CSE videos and First Aid. I practiced with a non-medical friend (thank God for his patience!). Was uncomfortable with Skype and could not find a study partner who was giving the exam at the same time so my study schedule did not match anyone elseís.
1. You must have heard from everyone that TIME is the key. I can tell you that itís 100% true. Just want to reinforce the fact that there will be barely any time in some cases to do a full physical at the end. The patient can have more than one (sometimes 4!) complaint that you need to explore.
2. Another comment on Ďtimeí: The key to finishing on time is to be robotic. By that I donít mean be non-empathetic. I mean you should have the questions that you need to ask on the tip of your tongue. Symptomatology is thus very important (FA mini-cases).
3. CSE videos are great in helping you come up with these questions. The doc in the videos does this and by the end of watching 10-15 videos you would have subconsciously imbibed this info.
4. CSE videos are great but there are times when she doesnít ask all relevant questions and also comes up with inaccurate D/D and investigation plan. So, watch out.
5. I donít like mnemonics. I always took me forever to remember the mnemonic and then what each letter stood for and more often than not I confused the letters. But thatís just me. Use mnemonics if you like them.
6. Hereís a spoiler - you will encounter some weird cases and you will miss stuff! Donít beat yourself over it. Attack each new patient encounter as a new one Ė donít get bothered by what you did. Focus on whatís next.
7. Make casual conversation with fellow examinees during the breaks (of course not about the cases). It calms you down. Sitting there alone will only sap your confidence as you will keep thinking about the things you missed/did wrong.
8. Data gathering may be the thing most of us have problems with, but do remember that ICE (history + PE) is only one third of what you are graded on. 9. Your English proficiency and interpersonal skills are equally important.
10. Say youíre welcome every time the patient says thanks.
11. I used gloves in all cases Ė faster, easier to wear, you can face and talk to the patient while wearing gloves.
12. For PE, do the relevant system first. Then one or two quick tests from the major systems.
13. Practice writing abbreviations in the PN Ė that can really speed up things. E.g. in a case where CVS is not the C/C, you can listen to the heart beat in 4 areas (takes only 5 seconds) and later in the PN can write: RRR, S1S2 NL, no RMG. Thatís it!
14. After asking questions about C/C and D/D, make sure you practice asking the same questions for PMH, ROS, etc like Asso. Symptoms, LIQORAA, ROS, SODA, PAM HUGS FOSS - write these on the doorway and it makes asking these questions much easier.
Feel free to ask questions and give comments! Hope I have helped some of you out there.
Keep Calm and Carry On.