Sunday, July 15, 2012

That Time I Cried During a Standardized Patient Exam

During every rotation we have to participate in a Standardized Patient Exam (SPE) where we examine a (fake) patient and perform a procedure relevant to our current rotation. This past Wednesday was our SPE and the procedure we had to perform was an incision and drainage. I'm not going to lie, I was pretty nervous during it. I had never performed a procedure like this so I had done a TON of research on the exact procedure. Well, we weren't provided all the materials that the New England Journal of Medicine procedure instructions said we needed . To be more specific we were provided 3 of the 15 we needed. Oh and this was for a grade and it was being videotaped. Needless to say, I was stressing out.

Oh yeah, did I mention last Wednesday was the day we got our Step 1 scores back?

Scratch that pretty nervous bit...I was batshit crazy that day. I was shaky. I was nauseous. I was a total freaking mess. Add on an exam over a procedure I had never done before and  for which I was stress level was at 11.

I performed the procedure the best I could (without local anesthesia, hemostats, packing strips, sterile freaking anything) and was complimented by the standardized patient afterwards that I was well studied and he felt safe in my hands. He said it was obvious I knew what I should be doing and did a good job of executing it. Then he told me that I seemed a little nervous and rushed...

and I did this.
Yes. I bawled. After being complimented multiple times on the important stuff, I cried because he told me I seemed rushed. To which he then responded "I don't think you're a bad person!" and all I could get out was "Not. sniff you. Step 1. sniff scores." With randoms bursts of "I have got to chill!!" He gave me a scared look and walked away to fill out my evaluation (which probably went something like this).

Not that I can blame him.

Meanwhile my fellow classmates were looking at their Step 1 scores. (They came out during the time my exam was schedule.) So I returned to our little waiting room to get my backpack and saw two good friends and had to recount the story for them...all the while crying more. They, of course, had seen their scores, done exceptionally well, and were as supportive as possible but still had a faint look of fear on their face. I continued to cry for the next 30 minutes and then finally was able to lock it up during lunch. Talk about a lesson in humility!

So there's that.

Oh yeah, I passed. ;-)


  1. SPE's have changed some in the last ten years. Yikes! I&D is a tough one in the surreal environment of SPE. You made it, though. And congrats on Step 1!

  2. Okay, sorry about the SPE, but way to go on passing! Love the clips you picked. :)

  3. congrats on passing AND on doing well with that spe... I could never do what you do!

  4. WOW!!! I'm glad you passed! I would have cried too about being stressed so much! They really have to give you a break for all the stuff you're doing!

  5. Congrats on passing!!!! (And why would they do that to you - results AND an exam on the same day - not nice!)

  6. Congratulations! And I have cried from stress's probably the more uncontrollable kind.


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