The Exam

The examinator called my name and I stepped up. “The assignment is to change the stoma and teach the patient how to do so himself.” I was overjoyed. Over the last few weeks I’ve spent hours upon hours practicing the different tasks we could receive, and this one I felt confident in.


My patient ❤

The exam began. And it went wrong from the beginning. Suddenly I couldn’t remember the order of things. Suddenly I couldn’t explain my actions. I drew a complete blank on the first two questions she asked me. My pulse quickened. My breathing became shallow. Nothing about my hands resembled the firm, yet gentle, touch of a nurse.

With real patients I’ve never wavered. But with this doll? My hands were shaking.

“Tell the patient what you’re thinking,” the examinator said. Our eyes met. I didn’t need her to say it out loud to know what she was thinking. I refused to give up though. I struggled onward and made awkward conversation with the doll. It went a little bit better, but not nearly good enough. The last minutes were miserable ones.

I’m sorry for the awful treatment this time, but at least you know that I know better.

The nerves really got the better of me this time. What’s worse, I can tell you exactly where I went wrong. When push came to shove I choked – I couldn’t show my knowledge when it mattered. Have any of you ever experienced something similar? If you haven’t, be glad, because it downright sucks.

23 thoughts on “The Exam

  1. Oh my! I have been there done that more times than I care to share, and I’m sure most if not all of us have too. It is a part of life. The times it happened to me, I was able to joke about it at the time and that calmed me so I could continue. Humor can ease the situation. But the best part of all this is you gained knowledge for failures should do that. You learned and gained experience at the same time so when the patient asked if you have done this before, you can say you have and that is all they need to know for you have, just not on a live person, but you won’t say that part. 🙂
    Good job!!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Well, first off the doll looks a bit scary, that right there would have made me forget my purpose. Is there a chance you can find a doll and practice before hand? I think you are right, it’s interesting how interacting with a “live person” is so different from a scary looking doll. The good news is, you survived the assignment. I am HORRIBLE at role plays. So, I felt your pain of feeling mentally frozen! I really feel if you could feel more comfortable talking to the doll after hours, pretending it is a live person, suddenly the initial fears would go away and it would FEEL like it was a live person. HE IS SCARY LOOKING! You’ve got this!!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Absolutely been there myself.

    But let me start by saying I’m slrty you had such a rough time with the exam. It’s never fun when the troubles happen. At least you are aware lf the errors are and you can confidently correct them. You got this!!

    When I was in the Army, we were shown how to handle multiple weapon systems. Each soldier was given an opportunity how to effectively handle them under peaceful and stressful situations. Twice I failed both scenarios despite knowing every moving part and tactics necessary.

    It took an extra two tries to be “100%”. Anything else, they would not consider.

    It’s difficult when it comes down to it you must demonstrate your knowledge but we all must accept we have our sense of self-doubt. We must attempt to quell that feeling when (it comes down to it). And other side of that coin, we are all human. We’re going to fail. How you come back from it is what matters.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. You’re right! How we come back is what matters! Thanks for reminding me. I think it was just such a shock to do so bad when I felt so ready, but I guess we sometimes mess up no matter how much we have prepared for it… But wow, you had the courage to take the test three times! True persistence:)

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I want to point out something I think is important: while this was a failure to pass a test with flying colors, it is not nearly so important as a real “push comes to shove” scenario. That would be WHEN A PERSON needs your help!

    In medical care, you will face real crises over and over. Those matter more than this test.

    I’m glad the education is rigorous and the tests are hard. Your job is too important to let poor students skate by. Only students who learn the skills should enter into the profession. But a failure on a test will likely be nothing compared to a similar result after your schooling is complete.

    I encountered several unknown nurses this week in a hospital setting, and their human skills were more obvious to me than their nursing expertise. Some seemed to forget my humanity; others made my anxiety-provoking procedure less painful by their gracious bedside manners. In spite of this, I trusted my health and safety to all of their hands…

    Forgive yourself for the parts that were hard for you in this examination, but do learn from them and carry on. The rest of us are so grateful for your efforts, and those of the students who came before you!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m so sorry to hear that you were hospitalized. I wish you a speedy recovery!

      That’s true! Real life is what matters in the end. I will definitely do my best to learn from this mistake and try to work even harder. Someone will rely on my care in the future, and I want to be worthy of their trust:)

      Liked by 1 person

  5. At least you still survived it! I loved that you refused to give up. This also happen to me when I do return demonstration with my clinical instructor grading me. Sometimes, I don’t deserve getting a low mark because I’ve practised a lot but in the actual part, I got so nervous huhu. Anyway, Good luck on your next practical exam if any. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I hope that the examiner gets what actually happened and shows some mercy! 😀
    It has happened to me many times I think. Now it feels funny though XD

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I think this often happens when you are under pressure, and being observed by a supervisor. I dreaded observations by the principal when I was teaching. I would make up a superb lesson plan but would always get so nervous when (s)he came in. Yet I would always muddle through somehow. Sometimes, on the rare occasion that I am watching a game show, I want to yell at the contestant who can’t come up with an answer that seems so obvious. Yet, I wonder if I were in the contestant’s place, would I do any better? We tend to freeze when we are being watched and feel pressured.

    So don’t be so hard on yourself. You will probably be a natural at it by the time you are practicing your profession. And always take time to reflect – I found that my supervisor would always like my reflections. I always knew what I had done wrong and why it went wrong. Seriously, self-reflection can help you calmly think through what you did and what happened, and then as you will learn from your mistakes, it’ll help you get through the next challenge without getting too stressed out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re a teacher? That’s so cool! I would have been so stressed out if I were in your shoes – you had real students, I had a doll, haha. I will reflect though and do my best to not let this happen again! That’s what second chances are for, right? 🙂


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