What is PLAB 2 Exam?
PLAB 2 is an objective structured clinical exam (OSCE). It's made up of 18 stations, each lasting eight minutes and aims to reflect real life settings including a mock consultation or an acute ward. Post COVID due to social distancing significant changes were made to the format of the OSCE examination. The 18 stations encompasses 15 OSCE Scenarios and 3 rest stations. Although the format has changed, a number of things like: Marking Criteria, duration of each station, Reading time for the Question and the requirements for the examination still remain the same.
Pre requisites for taking PLAB 2
English proficiency test ( IELTS/OET)
Passed PLAB 1
How do you answer the questions?
The whole exam will take around 2 hours and 50 minutes. You'll have one and a half minutes between scenarios to read the instructions and patient information. There will be at least three rest stations, allowing you to take breaks.
What does the exam cover?
The exam covers everything a UK trained doctor might expect to see on the first day of Foundation Year Two (F2) which we have discussed in details later. It tests your ability to apply knowledge to the care of patients, not how well you can remember and recite facts. We have discussed these points in details in the below mentioned Blog. Link: https://www.plab2nhs.com/post/resources
The domains you will be marked against
During the exam you will be marked against three areas or ‘domains' for each scenario.
When marking against the domains the examiner will assess your competency across a number of skill areas.
What is Expected of You?
The GMC website clearly states what areas of clinical, practical and communication skills are expected from the candidate but this is something which candidates miss or tend to overlook while reading through the PLAB 2 section on the GMC website. Hence we have re-iterated the points here. Please make sure to go through the below mentioned points in detail and understand them.
Note from our side: It is advisable you list down / copy-paste these points for your easy reference and use it as a checklist while preparing for the exam.
The 3 main aspects include:
1. Clinical Examination
The examiner will assess you on your ability to conduct a physical examination of a simulated patient.
GMC expects you to be able to carry out any basic physical examinations, such as examination of the abdomen, breast, chest, hand, heart, and joints. You must be able to perform a rectal or bimanual vaginal examination.
You must also be able to use the appropriate equipment in carrying out an examination of the ear, eye or nervous system.
You may be required to perform an examination or other procedure on a high-fidelity simulator (Simman/Simwoman) which can be programmed to show normal and abnormal clinical signs. A role player may speak from outside the room using a microphone connected to the simulator.
Examination of someone's mental state is a form of clinical examination for the purpose of the PLAB 2 exam.
2. Practical Skills
The examiner will assess you on your ability to perform common practical procedures. Again, they may ask you to deal with a simulated patient or an anatomical model. The practical skills may include:
checking blood pressure
inserting a cannula into a peripheral vein
calculating drug dosage
giving intravenous injections
mixing and injecting drugs into an intravenous bag
giving intramuscular and subcutaneous injections
basic cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (adult and child)
interpreting an electrocardiogram (ECG), X-rays or results of other investigations
interpreting basic respiratory function tests
performing urinary catheterisation
taking a cervical smear
Safe disposal of sharps.
3. Interpersonal skills
The GMC tests these skills by observing the interaction between you and the other person, usually a simulated patient or occasionally the examiner (No more post COVID). The examiner will assess your approach to the patient all through the examination. This may include:
explaining diagnosis, investigation and treatment
involving the patient in the decision-making
Communicating with relatives
communicating with health care professionals
breaking bad news
seeking informed consent/clarification for an invasive procedure or obtaining consent for a post-mortem
dealing with anxious patients or relatives
giving instructions on discharge from hospital
giving advice on lifestyle, health promotion or risk factors.
As the GMC may use an anatomical model in some stations it is important to remember the following:
Don't speak to the model as you won't gain any marks for doing so.
Tell the examiner what you are doing and why only if the instructions tell you to.
Don't perform any actions on an anatomical model that would be unsafe or painful to a real person.