OSCE Debut

By Rashid Elhawli

Ask any medical student about exams and two things should pop up; written exams and OSCEs. Most are familiar with the drill behind written exams, but less are aware of the awkward OSCE experience.

OSCE is short for Objective Structured Clinical Examination, which is a fancy way of saying that you are simulating a real-life doctor-patient encounter. The first official experience with this kind of examination was at the end of our first semester, when we had a practice run. The day was set-out so that it would be as similar as possible to the real thing.

Continue reading

A penny for your lifestyle change?

By Emily Feng-Gu

Everyone knows that if you’re in an OSCE station the first-line management for a chronic disease is lifestyle modification.

Lifestyle choices contribute to many of the chronic diseases that are topping the list of Australia’s causes of mortality, including cardiovascular disease, cerebrovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and some types of cancer.1

Behavioural change is difficult, and a lot of how we approach the challenge of motivating patients is rooted in patient education. We lay out the benefits and risks, we set SMART goals, and we hope that information is enough to spur patients into action. That is, we assume people are perfectly rational – but maybe we shouldn’t.

Continue reading

Death: A Medical Student’s Perspective

By Yung Chong Soon

This Wednesday morning started like any other day on the general medical unit as a final year medical student. I looked through the ward list, and noticed that Mary, a patient who I have been closely monitoring over the past three days, was no longer on the list. I was hit briefly by a moment of disbelief. Fearing the worst, I proceeded to ask my registrar, who was on his usual routine of checking bloods prior to the ward round. He turned around from his office chair and calmly mentioned that Mary had passed away in the early hours of this morning.

Continue reading

In Your Head: Being a bystander to mental illness

Anonymous

Mental illness is a demon that exists only in the mind. The intricacies of this internal struggle can only be intimately known by the person experiencing it. To add to the difficulty of articulating one’s thoughts and feelings, the social stigma associated with it only exacerbates the situation, leaving many feeling isolated, silenced and trapped in their own heads. Mental illness is real, a living reality that many have to struggle with and accept. In Australia, just slightly less than half of us will experience a mental health condition over our lifetimes.

Continue reading

Changing the dialogue surrounding psychotic illness

By Emily Mogridge

At the suggestion of my supervising psychiatrist, I recently watched the film A Beautiful Mind, a dramatisation of the life of mathematician John Nash and his struggle with schizophrenia. While discussing the film with a friend, she responded asking me if I found the film ‘creepy’ – she had assumed it must have been a horror movie. At no point had I suggested it was a horror film; the only indication I had given was that I mentioned that the protagonist had schizophrenia. It was only a passing comment, but it’s something that has left me mulling over our collective perception of psychotic illness.

Continue reading

So you want to do a BMedSc(Hons)

By Luigi Zolio

It’s that time of the year when people start to consider whether to take a whole year off from their studies to do … more study! A BMedSci, formally known as Bachelor of Medical Science (Honours), is a one-year research degree that can be undertaken after the completion of Year 3B. It’s a very popular program and a well-established one for people who want to get a proper first-hand experience with research. So how do you go about pursuing it?

Continue reading

Beyond the Vineyard — A short story

By Madeleine Leung

‘This land, this red land, is us; and the flood years and the dust years and the drought years are us’– John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath

************

‘Grace!’ calls a voice from across the crowded living room, filled with the collective laughter of the guests, ‘Grace, come and bring the grapes over here!’ In the corner, a young woman obligingly plucks a bunch from the numerous displays adorning the room. ‘That’s my daughter, Grace, the town beauty to be sure!’ the proud gentleman whispers to the young man beside him. ‘ As smooth and rosy as the grapes we grow here on the block! Here, try some!’.

Continue reading

Stigma and Borderline Personality Disorder: A Chronic Hurdle

By Matthew Towicz

Personality. It’s a big deal. It develops in our early years and persists across our adult life, governing our daily interactions through to our long-term relationships.

So why is it, that when confronted with disorders of personality, especially borderline personality disorder (BPD), we as clinicians are quick to disregard patients as just being ‘difficult’ or ‘causing trouble?’

Continue reading