Competency Exams

The dreaded comp exams are here. Well, for some they are not dreaded because they don't really study for them, and others freak out and study like a maniac. Me, I am in between. This weekend I freshened up on some topics that I felt I could use some extra work on.  

The tests...

Comps last two days and kind of remind me of the chiro boards, but not as intense. The first day is the written portion and the second is the practical portion. We are told the tests are pass/fail. The results are given to the student's clinicians in clinic to determine how much supervision the student will need.

The written test is at least 100 questions and from experience tests the student on point location, energetics, diagnosis, accessory techniques (such as moxa, electric stimulation or cupping), and biomed questions such as lab diagnosis, orthopedics, rehab, and radiology.

For herb students, there are questions on individual herbs and formulas. These tests are taken approximately three times during your education and the last test is called the exit exam. The test must be passed in order to graduate. It shouldn't be a problem for students who have studied and passed all their classes. The practical portion consists of three or four patient encounters. Each patient has a different condition and a list of diagnostic tests they must be performed. Outside the room, a S.O.A.P. note must be written and questions answered based on history performed.

I feel the tests do two things:

  1. They basically test you on everything you have learned since you began the program, which is good because you will realize your strengths and weaknesses. Plus, for those taking NCAOM boards, it's like a prep course.
  2. It is a chance to pull together everything you have learned whether points, foundations, nutrition, or diagnostics and fully utilize everything together in clinic. 

Everything is learned in bits and pieces regardless what education you have, and it is the student's job to piece it together and conclude how to best utilize it in practice.

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