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How to successfully challenge the PCE

how to successfully challenge the pce

“5 Tips for making it through the daunting prep of the Competency Exam”

1. Study With Scenarios

The best way to prepare for the PCE is to practice in the same format you will be evaluated, scenario-based timed stations.  The importance of this should not be overlooked.  In a setting like this where the pressure is high, nerves can often get in the way.  Therefore, it is important to train yourself to be as comfortable as possible.

2. Master Your Script

Most of us know how to at least introduce ourselves.  Often the struggle is running short on time due to over explaining, freezing in conversation, or not knowing what questions to ask, or how to ask them.  Most scenarios will have similar components you will be evaluated on. For example: introduction, consent, red flags and/or contraindications and precautions, explanation of technique, safety, and closing. Don’t let your nerves get the best of you.  Developing a script that you have rehearsed well and can easily alter depending on the topic, will ensure accuracy and efficiency every time.


3. Consult with Working Therapists

A lot can be said from shared and personal experience.  Many candidates often work as physiotherapy residents prior to challenging the practical component of the competency exam.  Not only working with a more senior therapist and receiving mentorship, but also having the natural interaction with patients repeatedly, can be just as valuable as studying, if not more so.  This provides opportunity to practice in a realistic setting. It also allows you to develop your own flow and method of assessment and treatment. Thus, preparing you for the practical patient interactions you will face on evaluation day.

4. Focus on your Weaknesses

Its always the most satisfying to practice the topics we know best, especially when studying with peers.  But we all have our strengths and weaknesses, and this is time to focus on everything, especially our short comings.  This is probably the only time you will need to be the expert in all facets of physiotherapy.  It is those areas that we dread or neglect that haunt us the most.

5. Stick to your Study Schedule

As mentioned in previous blog posts, it is important to develop a study schedule and stick to it!  Even if you are working as a resident, or elsewhere, you need structured study time to practice topics you may not see during the day, nor in the same setting you will be evaluated.  A schedule is also important so that you have down time and give your brain a break! Overworking yourself only causes a case for concern, creating a healthy balance is key.