Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Day Before

I probably shouldn't be writing this.

Tomorrow, after all, I sit for my Maintenance of Certification examination in Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology. It's my second time re-certifying after passing my original EP boards in 1994. And as I've been learning, things have changed. But I should do fine, right? There's no need to worry, right? I've been doing this my whole working life after all.

Relax, Wes!

But I do worry. That is my nature. I have spent countless hours worrying about this test. II took the sanctioned Heart Rhythm Society Board Review Course to prepare for this test. Why? Because I know from prior experience that there are tricks to these tests: certain topics that always get tested. The directors of these courses, sworn to secrecy mind you, give you clues what will be on these tests by the material they cover in their lectures. So I paid. Yeah, it's a racquet and I'm probably a fool, but knowing how to spend your precious time studying after a full's day work is helpful. After all, it would be embarrassing and even more costly for me if I do not pass.

So, for whatever reason, I just don't want to forget how I feel right now. Perhaps it's to let my patients know why their clinic date with me has been bumped. Perhaps it's to let others know what one doctor really feels just before doing this so late in one's career.

But honestly, I suppose I really want to write this post for me. I don't want to lose the memory of what it was like to watch the video about the unfamiliar corporate testing center where I must go, about the infra-red palm reader that I will have to use to prove the person there is really me. I don't want to forget the guy (or gal) that will be sitting behind the glass wall watching me as I sit staring at a wall and a computer screen in a tiny cubicle clicking at a keyboard for eight hours. I don't want to forget that even my watch and wallet won't be allowed in the room; that I will be unreachable in this tomb. I don't want to forget the foreboding sense of a robotic depersonalization; about my anxiety at the thought of constantly worrying about a tiny digital clock in the right upper corner of the screen constantly ticking, ticking, ticking - as if medical decisions are ever timed like this. Like Nineteen Eighty-Four.

And I especially don't want to forget how incredibly small I feel as doctor now...

... the day before.



Anonymous said...

Just don't forget your #2 pencil and fill the ovals completely.

DrWes said...

Anony 10:42 -

The days of #2 pencils are long gone. In fact, pens and pencils aren't allowed in the testing room: it's just me and a computer terminal.

Interestingly, after showing this post to a collegue who's experienced this form of testing before, he noted how others next to him were being tested from different fields that involved essay writing. He commented how distracting the furious clicking from a neighboring cubicle's keyboard was for him and advised I pick up the ear plugs they offer before going in.

I think I'll take him up on the suggestion...

... even if it means more sensory deprivation.

AmySue said...

Your feelings sound like they are quite natural for anyone who truly cares about the work they do or the subjects they're studying. And because of this feeling of anxiety you have, I think you'll be alright. Just remember what you tell your patients when they're worried and anxious about a procedure. Then practice those words. Oh - and I think ear plugs is a great suggestion. I cannot stand the sound of the loud typing when I'm on a plane trying to read a book. ;)

Anonymous said...

Bose headphones...work much better than ear plugs.

Anonymous said...

Sounds exactly like the IBHRE exams. And every time you leave for a break and return to the test room, they wand you like the TSA. Good times.

Anonymous said...

good luck.
they certainly won't let you take headphones into the test area. get the earplugs

Wes Todd's blogs said...

It's good to know Drs. sometimes feel small and worried too. My business is making study guides for similar board exams. I get calls all the time from an EP tech who failed. They're hurting! I do all I can to ease their pain and help them prepare again. Another Wes

Unknown said...

Although it's an intimidating process, don't lose sight of the fact that you are probably one tenth of one percent (if that) of physicians in America who could (and will)pass this test. Hold your head up high when you walk into the test center. And good luck although I don't think you will need it.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I am pretty sure I took my exam at the same spot locally. They have a website that shows what the room layout really looks like, which does reduce the surprise, but I read this too late to direct you.

Oh well, it is all only about how well you play the game of test taking for these, not at all about what you know.

You will do fine, and be done quickly, I just know it.