Editor’s Letter 2015 No. 15

[box] This week, our Editor-in-Chief has been revising for the Situational Judgement Test [/box]

me sq

You are just finishing a busy afternoon refreshing Buzzfeed articles. Your flatmate, who is supposed to reach for the TV remote and change the channel to avoid any contact with Countryfile, is apparently sound asleep instead. You need to avoid Countryfile because it is dangerously close to being the One Show.

Rank in order the following actions in response to this situation. (1 = most appropriate, 5 = least appropriate)

A. Use your initiative and reach for that remote yourself.
B. It’s not your place to change the channel and disrupting the natural order of things will no doubt rain Armageddon down upon the flat.
C. Make a list of grievances that you have with your flatmate whilst monitoring the situation over the following days before passive-aggressively burning the hell out of it secretly in the toilet.
D. Do some SJT practice after ringing a senior colleague for no reason whatsoever.
E. Viciously wake up your flatmate by screaming expletive after expletive at them until you run out of oxygen and pass out. You awake to irretrievable domestic disharmony.

Therein lies the fun of the Situational Judgement Test. In little under a week all final year medical students will be subjected to this ADHD-inducing madness, an exam so tedious that even the Ritalin-runners can’t stop their eyes from wandering off course.

The SJT isn’t an exam that you can revise for; unless you’ve grown up in an isolated, sadistic cult. It’s pretty obvious that any options that involve the patient and/or doctor dying are pretty bad. The options where you do something pro-active that is beneficial to everyone are probably the good choices. It is also plainlt obvious that any options that involve kicking back with a coffee and doing nothing for an indeterminate number of hours are probably wrong unless the scenario has you as the consultant and the ward round has just finished.


You review a sandwich in a supermarket that has a reduced sticker on it. You wonder if it has already gone past the point of no return. A child runs up and takes the sandwich off the shelf before you could make your mind up

Choose the THREE most appropriate actions to take in this situation.

A. Take the child and the sandwich for coffee, give someone else your bleep, and begin exploring each other’s feelings as to why they should have the sandwich.
B.Complete a clinical incident form.
C.Ask a passing employee to sort the situation out on your behalf whilst you weep softly over the poor selection of crisps.
D.Choose a different sandwich, one with a filling you actually don’t detest.
E.Write in the medical notes about the situation.
F. Smack the child round the face with the sandwich and then walk out of the shop, victorious.
G. Review the sandwich again, assess the sorry looking lettuce on it, the pitiful amount of mayonnaise, the disk of mould on the bread.
H. You’re an FY1, you’ll never have time to eat or drink so what are you doing here in the first place, go get an AKI.

The idea is that anyone can in theory sit the SJT. It isn’t there to test anyone on medical knowledge or clinical skills. It is an examination of morals and dedication and, sort of like how a psychopath manipulates one’s emotions, your ability to anticipate what they want you to say when faced with a situation rather than what you’d actually do. In reality, all the answers would be cry, laugh hysterically for a moment or two, and then cry again.

The first danger in the SJT is second guessing yourself; that wee seed of self-doubt that germinates inside all of us from time to time, the little voice that asks if you’re a good person every now and then. It forces you to linger too long on a question about how best to respond to a nurse hurling abuse at you and before you know it you’ve fallen for the second danger – time pressure. Some of my colleagues are, like me, very nonchalant about the SJT. Others are waking up every night with drenching sweats having imagined the nightmare scenario where they’ve missed half of the paper because they spent far too long on the first few questions.

The secret will be to relax. The exam should be relatively pain free. The aim should be trying not to get distracted by the wall ornaments, the students that you’ve never seen before, and the creepy invigilators. Boredom will set in but, then again, it always does, just like the inevitable post-exam night out.


You are just finishing the SJT. Your friends are standing outside the exam room with a crate of low quality lager. It is Friday. Your LFTs are probably just about acceptable.

Rank in order the following actions in response to this situation. (1 = most appropriate, 5 = least appropriate)

A. Tirelessly dissect every question you can remember from the SJT on your own in a locked room. Write answers on the walls. Scream into oblivion.
B. Go to whatever terrible club your student union has decided that you should go to before getting a really dodgy kebab and going into 48 hours of hibernation in front of the TV.
C. Politely decline the company of your friends, iron your shirts, trousers and underwear and head into the hospital for an optional run of three nightshifts.
D. Monitor the situation over the following days, taking notes as to how long they willingly stand outside before giving up.
E. Bleep the on-call SpR. Ask her if she wants to join you.



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