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Towards an Illustrious Career of a Surgeon! Tips to crack the MRCS Part B OSCE exam

Dr Praveen G Sekaran shares some useful tips to deal with the MRCS Part B OSCE Exam.

Membership of the Royal College of Surgeons – MRCS is one of the most predominant paths for a candidate aspiring to be a surgeon. The two-part exam is conducted for surgical trainees to gain RCS (UK) membership; MRCS is often treated as the entry-level examination towards an illustrious surgical career. MRCS Part B OSCE is the final step towards the prestigious membership. If you are looking for some useful tips, this article is just for you.

MRCS Part B OSCE is the second part of the difficult MRCS exam conducted by the Royal Colleges of England, Edinburgh, Ireland, and Glasgow. This exam is primarily taken by candidates who have completed their basic surgical training. It also remains one of the favorite pathways for international medical graduates to enter subsequent specialty training under the NHS, UK.

This exam grants membership to one of the four Royal Colleges and hence remains one of the top exams in terms of difficulty. It is not impossible to clear the examination, just needs intensive and targeted preparation.

MRCS Part B OSCE exam evaluates both knowledge and clinical skills, and hence a two-pronged approach is commonly advised. We find that most candidates concentrate on skills and feel knowledge stations can easily be attempted.

While it is true in some cases, inadequate preparation often leads to losing marks in easy stations which is quite regretful. It is therefore advised to construct a timetable in which preparation for the knowledge stations is allotted at least an hour each day.

Most international graduates consider the clinical skills part of the OSCE as tough probably because it includes marks for professionalism and communication -two areas of importance which is often underestimated in most of the other healthcare systems.

These areas can only be improved by practice. Applying the skills learned in daily practice also improves the ease of using them in exam scenarios.

A study buddy is someone essential to clear this exam. It is tough to go at it alone. As most of the clinical skill stations include the presence of a patient /actor, it is advisable to keep a friend (preferably someone who is also preparing for the same exam) to practice stations with. This will help you both to improve your skills.

Constructive criticism is encouraged. For general surgeons and orthopedics attempting the exam, having a buddy from the other stream is very helpful.

How to approach stations?

For examination stations, do practice with real patients. We often underestimate the seconds lost in giving instructions to the patients and then understanding them. These lost seconds add up and end up costing you badly in the end. This kind of error can only be minimized by practicing with real-life patients. The same is advised for procedure stations.

Plenty of resources are available online. Do not get it in your head to go through it all. Stick to a couple of well-known resources advocated by your seniors and mentors who have gone through the exam and stick with it. Most of the content is repeated and hence it is a waste of time to go through everything one by one.

The need for a preparatory course/mock exam can never be understated. Practicing and performing under skilled supervision is essential for all candidates to improve. The essence of time management and keeping cool in face of the rapidly changing topics and scenarios from one station to another is something that only a real-life mock exam can teach you.  So do sign up for those sessions as much as you can.

Identify your weak areas and focus more on those topics. Practice and more practice remain the mainstay of your preparation. All the best!

Dr. Praveen G Sekharan, Asst Course Director, StudyMRCS, StudyMEDIC

MRCS Part B OSCE

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