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Thank God the CSA’s over – apart from the flashbacks…

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I was planning to write this immediately after sitting the CSA two weeks ago, but I was so convinced that I had failed that I didn’t want to formalise my thoughts about it in writing.

It’s not even the extra revision that having to re-sit would entail that was so fearsome - it’s the financial implications of paying another £1,550 to sit the exam, and paying for another night in a hotel and another train journey.

For the last two weeks I’ve had what I and my study group have named ‘CSA flashbacks’. These involve waking at 5.30am shouting: ‘A rash! I forgot to ask if he had a rash!!’. Whilst in Tesco, I find myself remembering an actor yawned at one point– causing sudden trauma in the frozen food aisle, panicking that was that a cue. And I had missed it!! Were they tired and depressed? Were they suicidal? I didn’t ask!!

I wondered if I was too informal with the actors – I even forgot for a nanosecond I was in an exam, and shared a joke with one actor. I’ve been over and over it in my mind wondering if the examiner thought I was trivialising the patient’s problem, or didn’t find me funny.

People in the year above us told us CSA was like a normal surgery. Well, if that exam circuit was like a normal surgery in my practice, I would have transferred from general practice to another discipline long before sitting that exam.

Simple cases left me feeling like I missed something – I found myself asking the actor twice if there was anything else they were worried about. Surely the examiners must be worried about my practice if a straightforward ENT problem turned out to be a brain tumour but I hadn’t ‘got it out ‘ of the ‘patient’?

By the same token, the hard cases felt very hard. Being quizzed by an actor on the details of a condition I’d only met before in passing was unpleasant.  As I changed in the toilets afterward I could hear a gaggle of girls chatting about what a relief it was that it ‘wasn’t too hard’, which didn’t improve my mood…

But as it turns out, I passed with the second highest score in the deanery. Turns out questioning about a rash wasn’t too important after all.

You can also read about our other GPST3’s experience of passing the CSA here.

Dr Julie Fry is a GPST3 in Cheltenham.

 

Readers' comments (8)

  • Congratulations, what is important is that you are critical enough of yourself to see that even clearly very good consultations have room for improvement. By the sounds of it you should be rightly proud of your achievement.

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  • Julie, Many congratulations. But I do not understand why were you worried about not passing?

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  • With 98% passing rate for a white female why were you worried??

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  • Many thanks! I was worried because I found the exam really hard if I'm honest! I expected it to be much easier and more reflective of an average morning at work.

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  • If you were worried......spare a thought for the cohort with the statistically highest failure rate!!

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  • Wow! Well done Julie. I passed, but found it hard too. It was nothing like a regular surgery!

    I'm glad it's over, although for a week post exam, I checked my tick just to make sure it didn't become a cross in case the examiners made a mistake.

    Just have to get the assessments & OOH out the way and then our lives as GPs can begin!

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  • Well done Julie.

    For the anonymous poster who asked why Julie was worried about not passing - have you never met a medical student or doctor around exam time? It's our default state.

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