Former Pre-Reg Optom Maryum Mahmood shares her top tips for preparing for the up-coming OSCEs - great advice for soon to be newly qualified optometrists
So first of all a massive congrats from me to you for getting over that horrible hurdle which is Stage 2 of your optical pre-reg.
Now that you’ve convinced two different assessors that you are competent in your knowledge and clinical skills, the end is most definitely in sight.
Here are some tips I picked up and how I generally organised my optical OSCE preparation:
- Go back to your Optical Scheme of Registration Handbook
Reading through the ‘final assessment’ section in your folder is a good place to find out about what can come up and the structure of how you will be assessed. It’s then easier to make up your own mock stations based on each element of competence. Here you will also find template referral forms and referral criteria (as this may vary from what you do in practice). You can also find information on the lengthy application process for an NHS number, which you may want to start sooner rather than later!
- Get on to the College of Optometrist’s website
The college have uploaded short videos to give you a taster of the OSCE assessment centre and preparation tips – watch them!
- Book yourself on to a mock OSCE courses
I think this is the single best prep tip I would recommend! I attended the Johnson & Johnson Institute for their one day OSCE course and I know many companies and universities offer something similar e.g. Out of the box optics. Until you are put in a ring with real assessors and real timed stations it’s really hard to know how well you can control your nerves and how tongue-twisted you can get. It also gives you a chance to practise on model eyes, get feedback from real assessors and use both types of manual keratometer’s (which you may not have access to in your practice).
- Make a tick list for your OSCE prep
There is so much to go through; pathology, management, differential diagnosis, case history’s, CL’s, clinical skills and the list goes on. The easiest way to tackle this is making a checklist so that you can plan and manage time and topics, but also squeezing in that 1-2-1-supervisor revision time between your clinics.
Flow diagrams helped me as a starting point for revising differential diagnosis/case history’s on topics such as Red eye, diplopia and blurred vision.
- Make use of supervisors, store staff and family
Communication skills are a big one! And that isn’t just with acting patients… In the OSCE exam it could be with other staff, parents, HES or even assessors directly. Practise those open and closed ended questions for case history’s, explaining tests such as push up exercises and referral calls, so that it feels natural and flows well in the exam.
For clinical skills, regular practise is probably better than a full day of practise. Use the time at the end of the day to practise focimetry and keratometry, and use your patients for CL’s, Ret, CT, Pupils, and Ophthalmoscopy.
Just remember, Indirect Ophthalmoscopy is tested in every OSCE and Communication skills are tested in almost every station.
- Lastly, remember the average 70% pass mark!
Only so much prep can be done, don’t work yourselves up because this is a different type of assessment to what you’ve had previously. Over the past few sets of OSCE’s there has been a high pass rate (as oppose to Stage 2!) – which should boost your confidence, and you don’t have to pass every single station to pass overall.
Hopefully some of these points will help you with your preparation. You can also have a look at the Newly Qualified Optom Zone where you will find more resources and support.
If you would like to explore your options once you have qualified as an Optometrist call the Prospect Health Optical Team on 01423 813452 or visit the Optometrist Jobs section.