As a new veterinary student, the acronym OSCE was foreign and quite honestly, terrifying. Any exam that has a name long enough to have an acronym is frightening in itself. The thought of taking an exam on my clinical skills was anxiety-inducing, as the list of skills we learned over our first eight weeks was extensive.
An OSCE, or objective structured clinical examination, is a staple in veterinary schools to assess what you have learned beyond the lectures. For me, at Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, I had the amazing opportunity to begin my hands-on experiences on my second day of veterinary school and continued to build on them as the weeks progressed from how to cast a cow, to physical examinations on horses and catheter placement in dogs.
Going into my first OSCE I was incredibly nervous. Given five minutes for each assessment, I began my techniques on physical examinations on horses, cattle, Kholer Illumination and drug administration. Through all the nerves, I shined as I explained my techniques. It wasn’t until the end that I felt truly confident in my abilities and realized that I’ve learned so much more than I could have imagined I would have in eight short weeks. In all honesty, OSCEs are just testing you on what you will inevitably be doing every day as a veterinarian. It’s not only essential, but the reason why you find yourself sitting in veterinary school. It is those clinical labs that get me through the weeks packed with information-overloaded lectures. Learning those clinical skills, for many of us, keeps us sane but also reminds us why we are doing this. Veterinary school can be difficult, and even exams on your clinical skills can be stressful, but it’s in those moments where you can put all of what you’ve learned together.