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Preparation for the clinical examination

1 March, 2021

Review of clinical skills
AMC clinical examiners recommend that candidates undertake a comprehensive review of their clinical skills in the four main predominant assessment areas. Particular attention in preparing for the clinical examination needs to be paid to reviewing foundation clinical skills, clinical competence and patient safety to the required standard, and to practising all aspects of consultation skills and doctor-patient communication in clear, non-technical English.

Experience suggests that a review of journals that contain articles dealing with common clinical conditions in the Australian community will be more effective in preparing for the clinical examination than spending too much time with reference books. Books concerning physical examination skills are essential as are online materials from reputable sources. Candidates are encouraged to obtain as much practice as possible to assist in preparing for demonstrating their clinical skills in the examination.

The AMC examiners also consider that candidates who are able to maintain continuing contact with the practice of clinical medicine in a teaching hospital or other relevant clinical service can significantly improve their chances of success in the AMC examination. It is in each candidate’s best interest to identify their clinical strengths and weaknesses and to focus their efforts on overcoming any basic clinical deficiencies before sitting the examination.

The MCQ examination feedback may provide a useful guide to areas of strength and weakness in clinical knowledge.

General preparation for the clinical examination
The following points are suggested to assist candidates in planning for and sitting the clinical examination.

Planning for the examination
The clinical examination is not designed to retest knowledge. Candidates should therefore focus on comprehensively reviewing and practising their clinical skills.

Candidates should:

  • Get a good night’s rest before presenting for the examination
  • Avoid the use of stimulants or other drugs that may impair your performance
  • Read their placement letter carefully and note the times and for NTC examinations the exact location of their examination
  • Ensure they arrive/attend on time for their clinical examination session and give themselves time to settle down before the examination commences
  • If travelling from interstate, ensure that they check any interstate time differences and allow extra time in case of delayed flights or travel time between the airport and the city.

During and after the examination
Candidates should:

  • carefully read any preliminary data supplied, and take especial note of tasks given
  • listen carefully to the examiner’s instructions and ask for clarification – or for the question to be repeated – if uncertain about any instruction or question from the examiners
  • not overlook the fact that there may be simulated or real patients in the clinical examination. Examiners will take note of the manner in which a candidate addresses and deals with the patient. Medical practitioner have a duty of care to patients, patients in the examination have a right to receive the same care.
  • avoid discussing patients with other candidates who may attend the clinical examination in the future, because patients are rotated and, in some cases, alternative conditions are examined in patients with multiple clinical signs. Any candidate who attempts to formulate a diagnosis or management on the basis of information provided by other candidates, without having seen the patient themselves, is likely to compromise their assessment.