Clinical Competence

We arrived at the Morchand Center For Clinical Competence at about 11 am and had a nice little introduction of how the exam will run. The basic rules are that you get an hour to elicit a full H&P from an actor in 1 hour. Every move and every word are recorded on videotape for your school and you have 15 minutes of review/critique at the end. Three sections on the grading- History, Physical and Patient Interaction. The administrator kept calling it "an experience". Oh and was it ever.

There is a big cloud of mystery that hangs over the Morchand center at my school. Mostly it is talked about with a tone anxiety and whispered rumor. I've heard stories of people failing for pretending to give immunizations, I've heard of people failing for not taking it serious enough, I've heard of people completely freezing and forgetting large chunks of the history...there's a lot of rumors. My roomate got reamed for being "excessively happy and not respecting the patient" the day before I went. Not exactly the comforting aura of puppy dogs and rainbows like you'd expect.

Having done one full H&P on my own, and briefly practicing over the past few days, I was somewhat worried about the physical. I knew that I was solid on the history and patient interaction, but I haven't quite gotten the complete physical synthesized to the point where it flows. I had planned to spend about 2o minutes with the complete medical history and then move to the physical for the remainder, and I hit around 25 minutes...not too bad. What killed me was the neuro exam. It's so long, and my oncologist preceptor kept telling us that we didn't need to know the complete neuro exam no matter how much we asked to go over/practice it. Guess what Doc...we needed it. So I didn't finish my neuro exam or get a chance to wrap up the session...but the rest of everything went fine.

My patient was actually quite friendly and cooperative with me, and even managed to joke around with me despite having unstable angina. I was somewhat unsettled when I went over to the sink to wash my hands ended up staring directly into a camera mounted on the wall. I made sure to give the camera guy a little wink, so maybe that will show up on my eval. The most interesting part of the feedback came from the patient who told me what it was like to be my patient...and it was all pretty positive. I guess those empathy classes worked.

Overall I think it boosted my confidence in communication and showed me what I have to work on in the physical: PRACTICING!

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