You can never tell…….

Having seen various patients with what appeared to be peripheral nerve disorders enter and exit the neuro/other station, as I entered, I saw a young girl sitting with a visual aid walking stick. I was subsequently asked to examine a 13 year old girl’s Cranial Nerves.

I started my routine cranial nerve exam asking about sense of smell, then moved on to the eyes. After the usual eye movements, visual fields, pupillary reflexes I then offered to check visual acuity and colour vision. I was asked to check for visual acuity but when I looked for a Snellen chart there wasn’t one available. The examiner sat there waiting and it felt like my time was running out when I had another 6 or so cranial nerves to try and get through…..fortunately I had my exam candidate folder next to me so I just used fingers and the letters available on the folder.

I was then asked if I have ever performed a colour vision which I replied no. The examiner’s response was “at least you are being truthful”. I proceeded to finish the rest of exam and questioning although all that was going through my head was “oh my God I have failed”.

Learning points:

  • Don’t be thrown by the examiner
  • Some parts of examinations may require some improvisation
  • You really can’t tell if you have failed or not as I passed this station with very nice remarks
  • It’s okay to admit never having performed a test you offer to do in exams
Filed in War Stories
3 comments on “You can never tell…….
  1. says:


  2. AishaJ says:

    I will try to remember this…I had similar experience in my medical school finals!

  3. archana says:

    Is it inappropriate to mention Ishihara charts for color vision testing in a 13 yr old?
    We would have done it before in opthalmology postings

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