Newly Qualified Optometrist Job Advice: Maryum Mahmood shares her OSCE top tips
So first of all a massive congrats from me, 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 definitely in sight. Soon enough you will be on your way to your newly qualified optometrist job. To help you on your journey, here are some tips on how to prepare for your OSCE.
Your Optical Scheme of Registration Handbook
In your handbook, there will be a ‘final assessment’ section; this is a good place to start. It will tell you the different subject which could come up during the exam, as well as information on how you will be assessed. Using this, you can make your own mock stations based on each competency element. You will also find template referral forms and referral criteria, this is key as it can vary from what you do in practice. You can also find information on the NHS number application process, I recommend starting this sooner rather than later as the process is pretty lengthy. Keep hold of this handbook, it will come in handy in your first newly qualified optometrist job.
There are a bunch of resources on the College’s website so make sure you check it out. The main resources I found useful were videos, giving you a taster of the OSCE assessment centre and how to prepare.
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. If you can’t, many universities offer something similar. This will give you a chance to practice on model eyes, gain feedback from real assessors and use both types of manual keratometers. I found this useful because you don’t know how well you will be able to control your nerves, or how tongue-twisted you can get until you are in with real assessors in a (almost) real situation. This courses, and ones similar will provide you with a real-time practice of what you are about to go through, so if you can get yourself booked on; another great one to try is Out of the Box Optics.
Write a Prep List
There is so much to go through; pathology, management, differential diagnosis, case history’s, clinical skills, etcetera. The easiest way to tackle this is making a checklist. This way, you can plan and manage time and topics, whilst squeezing in one-to-one supervisor revision time between clinics. I found flow charts a helpful starting point for differential diagnosis and 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! That isn’t just with acting patience, in the exam this could be with other staff, parents, HES and the assessors. Be sure to practice open and closed questions for case history’s. Work on explaining tests such as push up exercises and referral calls so it feels natural too. Communication is tested throughout, so make sure your manner is natural and fluid.
For clinical skills, practice regularly; use time at the end of the day to focus on focimetry and keratometry. Regular practice is better than a full day, use your patients for CL’s, Ret, CT, pupils and ophthalmoscopy. 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, so try not to overwhelm yourself. This is a different type of assessment to what you have had previously, and typically the pass rate is high. Remember you don’t have to nail every station to pass.
Enjoy the process, before you know it you will be starting your newly qualified optometrist job and all of this will be a distant memory. Good luck!
If you would like to explore your options for when you are a newly qualified optometrist call the Prospect Health Optical Team on 01423 813452.