Thursday, November 30, 2006


I'm going to take the last major test of my fourth year, and of my medical school career. After this, there are no examinations worth troubling about between me and graduation. (I have some intra-departmental exams remaining, but as they are written by amateurs, they are not tough, at least to someone like me, who has pretty much one practical skill: taking standardized exams)

This exam has become a graduation requirement only in the past few years. It was originally designed for foreign medical graduates, to ensure they had the requisite command of English to embark upon a residency here in the States. I guess even British and Canadian graduates had to take it, which is actually funny. Anyway, the exam is the same now as it was then, and consists of eleven (I think) simulated clinic encounters, with actors of varying degrees of capacity playing the patient. The student goes in, asks some questions, does a basic exam, and then comes out of the room and writes up a short note.

Since the exam was designed to see if you speak English and can understand English clinical conversation, it isn't tough. 96% of American medical school graduates pass, and about 80% of foreign graduates pass. I'm not worried. (I'm sure Medstudentitis and Angry Medic won't have any problems either, should they need to write this exam) Unfortunately, it is both expensive and inconvenient to get to, as it is offered in only five places in the country: Houston, Chicago, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Los Angeles. So I get to ride Amtrak for the first time in my life to the closest of those cities and get a hotel so I can wake up early tomorrow and take this thing. So I guess the exercise for today will be comparing the American and British rail systems. I think I know who's going to come out on top.

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