So during our pre-clinical years we had this wonderful class called "Principles of Clinical Medicine" which was "designed" to impart onto us all the skills we need to survive in the clinical world that you don't learn out of a basic science textbook. We had lectures on giving bad news. Lectures on disaster preparedness. Lectures on healthcare reform. Lectures on "adapting to a chronic illness." The culmination of the class was something called the (Group) Objective Standardized Clinical Examination (GOSCE if as a group, OSCE if solo), where you had to perform a history/physical exam on fake patients often with one of the "difficult" issues lectured on, such as substance abuse, non-compliance, divulging a medical error, etc and graded in checkbox style on whether you washed your hands, shed appropriate tears, preserved modesty whilst sticking a finger up a man's inguinal canal, and such. Did it help me prepare for my clinical years? Yeah, I think so. But as far as preparing me for what I do 75% of my day, it didn't help squat. So instead, in order to better prepare MS1s and MS2s for what the wards are actually like, I propose the OSCE be replaced with... the SACK (Subjectively Arbitrary Clinical Klusterf*ck - with a K 'cause SACK is a way cooler acronym than SACC)
Here is how it would be conducted. 10 students would be unleashed into a mock ward with 1 patient assigned to each of them. There is a workroom with computers. The student must:
(1) Log onto the records system on a computer terminal to read up on the full H&P, course, vitals, labs, and imaging of their patient and commit them in some form to memory
(2) Go see their patient and get overnight updates/perform a physical exam
(3) Go talk to the nurse for the patient to find out what really happened overnight
(4) Come back to computer terminal and write a progress note complete with assessment and plan with a "well thought out and thorough" differential and relatively accurate plan
Now the rules of the exam:
--The student must perform all of the above tasks on a timer of 120 minutes. At the end of the 120 minutes, the student must present their patient while individuals in long white coats stand around, shuffle their feet, and clear their throats
--Even though there are 10 students and 10 patients, there are 8 computers in the work room. Additionally, throughout the course of the 60 minutes, 8 individuals in long coats representing consults, attendings, and residents will come in and sit at terminals to check their google mail and book airline tickets to exotic tropical places. The students have no choice but to defer to hierarchy and rescind a computer terminal if needed by said individuals. Said individuals can sit at any station as long as they want, and if all 8 individuals decide to use computers, students have no choice but to stand there wasting precious time
--There will be 5 nurses for the 10 patients. At any moment 2 of the 5 nurses will be missing and no one knows where they are.
--60 minutes into the exam, the students will all be herded into a room and forced to listen to "morning report" for 30 minutes, denying them access to patient, work room, or computer terminal and cutting their effective work time down to 90 minutes
--Patients will either be too tired to give a good history of last nights events or physical exam, too cranky to give a good history of last nights events or physical exam, or too drugged to give a good history of last nights events or physical exam.
--You are allowed to print your notes for aid in your presentation at the end, but only 2 of the 8 computers will send to the printer
Now that's real wards experience.
BTW... saw my first code today. A parent of a patient seized and collapsed in the hallway right outside our workroom. He hit his head on a counter, cracked his skull open, and went apneic. I stayed out of the way, since simply observing the carts and the medical supplies and the pooled blood on the floor was way too much for me. But good lord, within minutes of the code being called there were 50 docs and nurses all in that narrow little hallway while people tried to get supplies and a stretcher to the patient. It was like pigeons at a bird feed sale.
(You might be a med student if you get that joke.)