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5 Powerful Ways to Maximise Your MRCGP SCA Practice

The SCA (Simulated Consultation Assessment) exam is one of the 3 components of MRCGP (the other two being AKT and WBPA).

If you are reading this blog, you have likely a) started preparing for SCA and b) started practicing in study groups. This exercise can be efficient, beneficial and lead to exponential growth in confidence…OR…it can end up fixing bad habits, just being done ‘for the sake of it’ and generally being a waste of valuable preparation time.

This blog covers 5 important ways to maximise your practice time with friends and colleagues.

– Find out more about what the SCA exam is (and how to prepare in general) here
– Register for our next Free SCA Booster Webinar here
– Join our SCA Telegram teaching group here
– Start our most comprehensive SCA Ultimate Package here

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5 Powerful Ways to Maximise Your SCA Practice

Record your cases

Recording and watch-back can be an extremely valuable growth tool. Do you really know how you appear or sound in a consultation? Which words do you use? How clearly do you explain things? Which cues do you miss? Which mannerisms may appear distracting?

Whether you are role-playing face-to-face or online as the doctor, make sure you video or record your cases (with consent of your friend of course!) After the session, watch yourself back – you will learn so much. It is so important that you recognise your good and not-so-good points when you’re in your ‘SCA zone’ – often remarkably different to those when seeing real life patients.

Simply relying on others telling you about your performance will never allow you to pick up all the simple things that you can spot yourself. Recording and watching your own cases back after a study group session will instantaneously maximise the productiveness of your practice.

5 Powerful Ways to Maximise Your SCA Practice

Critically self-reflect

So often we base how successful study group practice is solely on how many cases we get through. Of course the number of cases is important – but it is vital to get as much as you can from each case. Self-reflection of performance AFTER the session, for example when walking home or having a well deserved coffee afterwards, is where the magic really happens.

Rather than switching off, go back through each case that you did yourself and break it down systematically in your mind. You may have thought it went well at the time and would probably have forgotten it completely, but now become a little self-critical.

Did I include all 3 Arora Bubbles of Data Gathering? Have I actually asked all the red flags that I could have? Did I know what the guy did at work or find out if his symptoms affected it? Did I actually come back to the alcohol like I said I was going to? Could I have involved him in the second half, or did I completely take over the consultation for 4 minutes? Did I use the Arora 3 Steps of Management properly?…

Only through this detailed process of self-critique – when you are on your own and not under pressure to move straight onto the next case – will you realise where YOUR improvement points are…Without doing this you will almost certainly make the same omissions and errors next time too.

5 Powerful Ways to Maximise Your SCA Practice

Practice back-to-back

Practicing cases back-to-back is vital to see how you cope when cases go wrong…. A really common scenario seen in these types of exams are: “the first case was so difficult and I completely messed it up – the rest of the exam was affected by that”. This only happens if you haven’t practiced how to move on from a case that went horribly wrong.

Please take some time to string some cases together when you practice – at least two in a row before you stop to discuss – it is only through practice that you can figure out how to move on from a case that you know went badly…

Advice is often given to ‘just forget the last case and move to the next’ – actually having the skill to do this in reality takes practice…again and again and again…

You get to practice back-to-back cases in exam condition in our Mock SCA sessions (you can book these individually or as part of the SCA Ultimate package) – we know how important it is to put you in this pressure situation!

5 Powerful Ways to Maximise Your SCA Practice

Be challenging when acting

I remember practicing for exams like this with friends – everything was ‘nice’. ‘Actors’ were all friendly, sometimes information was given too easily and feedback was always based mainly on the medicine. ‘Should you have given this drug or that?’, ‘was that referral based on the current guidelines? etc. Of course these are all very relevant but two things were usually lacking….Firstly I had not experienced the other challenges that the exam can test such as emotion, communication difficulty etc, and secondly there was not enough appreciation or discussion on areas other than ‘clinical’, such as whether the ICE was addressed or whether practical suggestions for the patient’s work issues were explored…

So when you practice with friends or colleagues, 1) aim to challenge each other in areas other than simply making the medicine difficult and 2) make sure you discuss the other vital, non-medical aspects of the SCA exam after the case.

5 Powerful Ways to Maximise Your SCA Practice

Repeat sections of a case

During most role-plays between friends the feedback is a) too critical and b) non productive. Too much ‘you should have said this’, ‘you didn’t do this’ or ‘you could have done this better’. Whilst it’s important to understand areas where we lacked, just talking about it rarely has any impact going forward – it is just words.

Take the opportunity to replay part or whole of the case – maybe the Arora Golden 1st minute of management, maybe the explanation of the condition. Taking 20 seconds to repeat part of a case often is much more productive than simply discussing it and hoping that it will be better next time.

Our SCA Packages cover teaching and resources on all aspects of the GP consultation.

5 Powerful Ways to Maximise Your SCA Practice

In Summary...

– Record your own cases and watch back.
– Critically reflect on your own cases after the session.
– Get used to the pressure of back-to-back cases.
– Challenge each other when being the actor.
– Repeat parts of cases to improve next time.

5 Powerful Ways to Maximise Your SCA Practice

How Arora can help you pass SCA

Our most comprehensive SCA package is our SCA Ultimate Package – saving you time and planning. All of our SCA resources and material are included in this mega-bundle: SCA-145 Online video course, 3x SCA Audiobook courses, Live Mini-SCA Mock Exam session, Online Case Bank, Data Gathering Flashcards and Medical ‘How to Explain’ Flashcards. Access to all material is for 12 months allowing for a complete preparation plan. It will cover key aspects of SCA preparation – balancing both scoring high marks and effective time management, in 5 different teaching styles to suit each type of learning. Click here for full details and samples.

All of our individual SCA resources and packages are here.

To register for our next free SCA Booster webinar click here.

To join our SCA Telegram teaching group for daily teaching click here.

5 Powerful Ways to Maximise Your SCA Practice

On a final positive note

To end on a positive note, you will pass SCA if you make your practice efficient and productive. Just like any exam or assessment it takes good planning, constructive preparation and a positive mindset – things that can significantly help boost confidence before you enter that (virtual) exam room!

Good luck and #CanPassWillPass

Author Bio — Dr Aman Arora

Dr Aman Arora is a GP who is now 100% committed to transforming medical education, helping doctors across the globe to ace their exams and enhance their careers. He is proud to hold FRCGP (Fellow of Royal College of General Practitioners). Read more about Dr Aman’s journey here.

Previous roles include:

  • GP Training Programme Director
  • HEWM Advanced MRCGP AKT Trainer
  • GMC PLAB 2 Examiner
  • NHS GP Appraiser
  • MSRA Question-writer
  • GP Recruitment Examiner
  • HEWM IMG Board Member

Author Bio — Dr Pooja Arora

Dr Pooja Arora is a GP with a background in Medical Politics, where she passionately focuses on improving the opportunities and working conditions for junior doctors. She is proud to hold FRCGP (Fellow of Royal College of General Practitioners).

You can find out more about Pooja’s previous roles and qualifications here.

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