5 Crucial lessons I learnt from my mistakes during my AMC clinical exam preparation.
Like most of mycomrades, I started my medical career in Australia with new dreams, high hopes and a burning desire to achieve new horizons. I was eager to completeall the requirements to secure my Australian medical registration at the earliest. Following completion of my AMC MCQ examination, I started planning my preparation for the AMC clinical exam, after exploring the nitty-gritty details of the exam. I began to realise its competitiveness, and the high standards expected from candidates. I understood that the only possible way to crack the exam was by adequate preparation and particularly PRACTICE, periodic assessment of my performance/ progress and regular regrouping to identify my strengths and weaknesses.
Along the way, during my preparatory phase, there have been some moments of success and some moments of failure. However, I was determined to look for the silver lining in every situation, which was critical to my success. Here are some of my choices, my mistakes and the invaluable lessons I learnt from them.
- My initial choice: During the initial phase of my preparation, I followed my instinct of speaking fast. My erroneous impression was that it would be an advantage as it would show my command in my English language.
Mistake: Due to the fast pace of my speech, the information I tried to convey was difficult to comprehend for the patient (role-player), and they were sometimes confused with my explanations and recommendations.
Lessonlearnt: The optimal manner to talk to the patient (role-player) is to be fluent and clear, at a moderate pace in an empathic way.
- My initial choice: I spent a considerable amount of time reading subject textbooks in detail for each role play station I covered.
Mistake: As a result of spending thelong duration of time in reading case relatedtextbook content, I was unable to meet the daily/ weekly deadlines I had set for myself. Also, during role-plays, I gave excess information, which the patient (role-player) did not understand at times. I also struggled to complete all expected tasks in many stations.
Lessonlearnt: Although having in-depth knowledge of subject matter is a prerequisite for clinical practice, the AMC clinical exam primarily focuses on optimal doctor-patient relationship, communication and patient education in the background of clinical knowledge. Background knowledge gained during basic medical qualification and completion of AMC MCQ examination is sufficient in most cases. Additional reading of textbooks is warranted only for selected topics.
- My initial choice: I relied solely on demonstrating my medical knowledge, ignoring patients’ sentiments and concerns.
Mistake: My patients (role-players) were highly dissatisfied with my approach and recommendations, and did not feel comfortable under my care.
Lessonlearnt: I understood Empathy is the keyto a good therapeutic relationship, which is also a fundamental requirement of the AMC clinical exam.Sensitively offering medical advice and comforting a distressed patient is pivotal in optimal patient care.
- My initial choice: I was reluctant to offer referrals, as I believed it would imply that I was inefficient to deal with the situation.
Mistake: I failed to identify my limitations as the treating doctor, and also the value that the multidisciplinary team members could offer to the patient.
Lessonlearnt: Being aware of one’s limitations and adopting the recommended treatment guidelines,together with amultidisciplinary team approach is fundamental to a safe clinical practice, which is also acrucial requirement of the AMC clinical exam.
- My initial choice: I failed to practice role-plays adequately with study partner(s).
Mistake: Due to lack of practice in a time-bound setting similar to the real exam, I struggled with my thought process, delivery of information and communication. Also, I underperformed even in simple cases due to my nerves.
Lessonlearnt: “Practice makes perfect.” Practicing role-plays is the single most important activity that can lead to success in the exam.
Make wise choices,execute them sincerelyand attempt to define your destiny. All the best!