For those who don't know, OSCE stands for 'Objective Structured Clinical Examination', and it's the way med students are assessed in exams. It typically involves a student, an examiner, and a role player who acts as a patient whom we examine, take a history from, or give medical advice to. Of course, being a doctor isn't strictly limited to those things, so OSCE stations can sometimes test your practical skills, like the unexpected DRE (digital rectum examination) station we got last year (which I was and still am traumatised by!). Each station runs for eight minutes, preceded by a two minute period during which we read the instructions given and plan our approach. There are twelve stations altogether. Starting last year, it was decided that we would do all twelve stations in a day as opposed to doing six stations a day for two days. It sounded horribly daunting, but we were given a rest station after every three stations, so it was fine. Getting them all done in a day was probably better than having to have two days of exams, anyway.
There were a few stations I definitely wasn't expecting this year. The termination of pregnancy one really threw me, and so did the PPH (postpartum haemorrhage). The latter was an emergency station, which always makes me really flustered because it feels like everything needs to be done NOW NOW NOW. Thankfully there was a rest station right after so I had time to recover, but I also had to exercise a great deal of self control to refrain from beating myself up over what I felt was a poor performance. If there was a station I thought I really might fail, it would be that one. Still, I stabilised the patient and got the diagnosis and made some of the right arrangements, so hopefully I pass.
OSCEs really do require a lot of mental fortitude. Having back-to-back stations means you can't afford to dwell on the station you just completed lest you risk messing up the stations to come. Preparing for fifth year OSCEs is also incredibly taxing since they could theoretically ask you anything. I found this idea inconceivable in my earlier years of med school, but, while preparing for OSCEs, it just seemed normal, a fact of life. And now I'm done.
A few friends and I celebrated by leaving for Melbourne that very night. We met up with a few other friends there, and had a great time. It was so nice being back with the Hobart people -- I hadn't seen some of them in ages! We talked a lot, walked a lot, and ate a lot. Calories don't count when you're on holiday, right? Wrong. I came back a kilo or two heavier despite all the walking we did. But whatever, it was worth it. The places we ate at were:
- Gami: Korean fried chicken and beer. So good! The Soy Garlic sauce was a little too sweet for me, but both Sweet Chilli and Spicy (which is actually pretty spicy) were A+.
- Short Stop: Krispy what? This doughnut place is where it's at. My favourite is the Earl Grey Rose one, cake in the shape of a doughnut. They didn't have the matcha one I'd been wanting to try, unfortunately!
- Secret Kitchen: Dim sum. Sweet, sweet dim sum. They had pretty much everything you would find at a dim sum place back home, and then some. Biting into siu mai and liu sha bao for the first time in a long, long time nearly brought tears to my eyes. Everything was fantastic. Please go there if you can. Take pictures. Let me live vicariously through you.
- Hot-Star: Taiwanese style fried chicken. Delicious, juicy, well-seasoned, and massive! There was also similarly delicious chicken popcorn for those who prefer a higher coating-to-chicken ratio. They also had deep fried Tim Tams, which sounded promising but were really nothing to phone home about.
- Pho Bo Ga Mekong Vietnam: A pho place, but I got pork rice paper rolls because I just wanted a snack. There was another rice paper roll store just right next door, but this place appeared less commercialised and more authentic. There were also way more people. When I saw pictures of Jackie Chan eating there, I knew I had made the right choice. The pork was delicious and well-marinated, and the dipping sauce was good. A+ rice paper rolls!
- Sakura Kaiten: Nominated as one of the best sushi trains in Melbourne, I think? It was delicious, and there was an incredible variety of options. You could grab stuff off the train as well as order things on the iPad, and they were sent to you on a little conveyor belt. We definitely don't have sushi like this in Launnie! Fell victim to the sushi train trap and ended up spending way more than expected, but woo, celebratory dinner!
- Dessert Kitchen: Great Asian desserts, not so great staff. The Taiwanese style shaved ice was delicious and refreshing, but my favourite was the Dancing Queen (yeah, it's one of those places), which featured matcha ice cream, red beans, matcha jelly cubes, those little white QQ balls, and vanilla ice cream mixed with milk pudding. SO GOOD.
- Lune: Need I say more? Lune is an incredibly popular croissant place. I had a cronut for the first time here, and it was beautiful. Cutting it open was beautiful. Feeling the crunch as I bit into it was beautiful. The Pear and Burnt Butter as well as the Kaya cronuts were beautiful. The amount of butter I knew I was consuming did not make me feel beautiful, but it was a beautiful experience nonetheless.
- Industry Beans: This was the only place we ate at that I did not enjoy. I got a Truffle Egg, which sounded good. It was not, unfortunately. Sure, it looked all artistic and well-plated, but the meagre amount (they weren't kidding when they said 'egg', as in 'singular') combined with the downright strange amalgamation of flavours (pea panna cotta and weirdly sweet almond couscous) made me feel that it was not worth the $23 price tag. A friend didn't even finish theirs. It was unfortunate that this was our last meal in Melbourne.
We were only there from Tuesday night to Thursday afternoon, but managed to cover all these places. Suffice to say, we were almost constantly full, and also very satisfied. Besides all that eating, we did manage to do other things. Like go to the museum! (Thanks for entertaining my nerdy request, friends.) Using our student cards for one of the last times, we entered for free and explored the dinosaur, WWI, and brain/mind exhibitions. We also did some shopping, window or otherwise, which brought about a nice sense of familiarity. I miss wandering around malls! Also, Emporium reminded me a lot of Pavilion. At night, since things were still open (shock! horror!), we went to 'sing K', as I have learnt that it's called. It was all a lot of fun, and I was glad to have had the company that I did.
Now, I am back in the peace and quiet of Launceston, enjoying my last few days off before uni begins again. One and a half more rotations and a portfolio interview to go, and then I will be officially done with med school! Five years have gone by so slowly yet so quickly, and I cannot believe that we're nearly there. I used to feel woefully unprepared to be a doctor and far from capable, but at this point, I think I'll be okay. I really do.
I will probably post a longer, soppier post about my feelings on this when we actually finish. For now, though, I'm going to enjoy what little time we have left before we have to start getting stressed over logbooks and our portfolios and things like that. I've not felt this relaxed in a very long time, and I am going to savour it as much as I can, while I still can.