Saturday, October 07, 2006

The Mother of all Exams

De profundis clamavi ad te Domine!

Yes, well, if it's good enough for Oscar Wilde, then it's good enough for me too. Admittedly I might not be locked up in Reading Gaol doing hard labour for eyeing up some street urchin on the Tottenham Court Road, but I am nonetheless in the most uneviable of predicaments.

I am revising for PACES.

PACES is the third and final part of the post-graduate medical examination that all (British) physcians must pass in order to progress from a senior house officer to a registrar and beyond. Its name may well be an acronym derived from the rather benign-sounding Practical Assessment of Clinical Examination Skills, but the creature itself is anything but harmless.

Essentially it involves a serious of stations in which is perched some hideous, freak-of-nature patient with their nauseating pathologies shamelessly on show for all the world to see. You enter and examine the patient against the clock with the aim of correctly identifying what is wrong with them. Unfortunately, the whole proceeding is watched over with a hawk-like keeness by some decrepid old mummy of a consultant who has been specially dug up for the occaision. Should your examination not conform to their own idiosyncratic expectations, then beware: theirs is the power to pass or fail as the whim pleases. But not before the grilling, naturally. You present; they pounce: "so, aortic regurgitation, you think? And what, pray tell, are the 14 eponymous signs of severe aortic regurgitation? And what vanishingly-rare association of no clinical significance is there between aortic regurgitation and rectal bleeding?" Er. Er...

Best of all you get to pay £480 for the priviledge of sitting it. And that's not even to mention the vast sums of blutgeld demanded by those parasitic vultures who organise the revision courses or produce those obligatory books, without which can result only failure (or so we are told). At anywhere between $500 to £1500 a course and £30 to £70 a book, pearls of wisdom, it would seem, do not come cheap these days. In fact, PACES is a veritable gold-mine for everybody but the people sitting the bastard.

There are presently 21 days left until the my own big day. It's so comforting to know that I am just beginning a week of nights: I'm sure that'll help the revision no end!


Blogger Dazed & Confused said...

i have just been to one of the aforementioned courses and have spent the day having a new arsehole torn into me.

and these examiners were supposedly nice! i really cannot wait to meet Sir Tory Boy Fuckingly-Mithers in two weeks who will undoubtedly stare over the rims of his real tortoise-shell specs in aghast whilst he tears a third arsehole into me for failing to elicit "Cunt's Sign."

"Surely you ALWAYS elicit Cunt's Sign when examining the ear lobes? This is a clear fail."

To top it off the central line was screwed today so i took a bus through ladbroke grove and westbourne grove and forlornly looked out of my steamy window at all the pretty young things supping their early saturday evening pints in some flashy gastropub/kitchen/eating house.

No beer for you Dr D&C. You must go home and read about how many knuckles must be missing before the DVLA take away your car so you can pass the "communication" station.

6:38 pm  
Blogger Note said...

Although I disapprove of tests unless they are heavily weighed in favour of whichever party I am routing for, good luck all the same.

3:44 pm  
Blogger vegas said...

Go for it Dr. Sinner! Keep plugging away and even if the exam is crap that first cold beer is going to taste delicious, I promise.

11:17 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dr. Sinner

I found you via Dazed and Confused. My name is Ben Fawkes - I work at I hope you don't mind me messaging you like this - onexamination is going through some big changes and we would like to hear your opinion basically.

We have recently set up a 'med news review' feature. This basically collects all the medical news from across the whole web and centralises it on our site - allowing you to keep up to date with current medical affairs. You can then vote and comment on these stories and influence what the community reads. As a tech savvy individual, would you be prepared to be one of the first reviewers of this new 'playground'? Have a look and sign in here: Previous username and passwords can be used if you have had an account with us.

We would love to know what you think. Please take a look and have a play - if you have any feedback you can contact us via the labs site or me personally at And if you feel inclined to write about the site in your blog we would really appreciate it, no obligation though!

I look forward to hearing from you! And good luck with your exam.

Kind regards,

Ben Fawkes

12:29 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I tried to email you but it got bounced back. Please could you contact me as I'd like to invite you to an event we are running around patient safety. email me at Any other UK based doctoers or nurses who blog are also welcome and should contact me too.


5:07 pm  
Blogger mad muthas said...

out of the depths i have cried to thee o lord! lord, hear my voice! let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplication ...
i think that should work nicely with the examining board ... go for it! (is oto-rhino-laryngology you're thang?)

10:15 pm  
Blogger The Venial Sinner said...

Verily, Mad Mutha, verily.

Clive, I would love to come to your event. But, in order to protect my true identity from becoming known to the public at large, I should have to slaughter without mercy all those who had gazed upon my splendorous form. This may not, alas, be in the best interests of patient safety.

8:27 pm  
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12:31 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Really good luck with the revision and the exam. I did PACES this last summer and really feel for anyone doing them. Bryn

11:22 pm  

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