January 25, 2020
NAC Preparation Resources
The following resources will help you prepare for the National Assessment Collaboration (NAC) Examination.
Pre-exam Orientation and Presentation
The Medical Council of Canada (MCC) has prepared an orientation presentation with instructions and details of the exam logistics. Please review this presentation before exam day. It is very important that you prepare with the current NAC OSCE exam offering. The exam has changed throughout NAC OSCE 2020 and NAC OSCE 2021 due to COVID-19. Personal protective equipment (PPE) has been enforced and physical examinations on Standardized Patients (SPs) are constantly changing. Please ensure you visit the NAC OSCE website often, to ensure you are up to date with current protocols and processes. MedApplications advisors will always be up to date on exactly what you need to focus on and cover for the NAC OSCE.
MCC reference documents: We encourage you to review the common mistakes made on objective structured clinical examination stations. These often related to:
- Not reading the instructions
- Not completing the stations in the amount of time provided
- Answering questions that are not asked of you
- Not being organized and clear with your communication
- Not ensuring you hit all of the steps required in the physical exam or history taking
Reference books and courses
Prior to the examination, if you are unfamiliar with disease management practices in North America, you may wish to consult the latest edition of Therapeutic Choices edited by Jean Gray, published by the Canadian Pharmacists Association, as a source of general information. It is also important that you take a NAC OSCE Course in order to work directly with prior NAC OSCE proctors. Knowing exactly what to focus on will make your preparation more efficient and structured. Common things to focus on include:
- Approach to Canadian healthcare systems and communication
- Counselling stations
- Physical examinations (being organized and succint)
- General medical content stations
- Communication (speaking with elderly, parents, children)
- Canadian ethics and ethical scenarios
Objectives for the Qualifying Examination
When creating NAC Examination cases, writers and committee members are guided by the Objectives for the Qualifying Examination, a document that outlines what candidates must know for any MCC examination. For this reason, the Objectives may be useful in your NAC Examination preparation. We recommend you go through each clinical presentation and carefully read the related objectives. If you feel your knowledge or skill on any given subject is weak, this could indicate that you need further study in that area.
The NAC OSCE has moved from a NAC OSCE score to a Pass, Fail or Pass with Superior performance. This is similar to the USMLE. Actual scores are not provided to residency programs only your Pass or Fail status.
Transition to DSM-5 for Psychiatry Questions on the NAC OSCE
In May 2013, the American Psychiatric Association published the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). The MCC has worked with its test committees to review the classification changes in DSM-5 and update the language in its exam content from the previous edition, DSM-IV-TR.
On the NAC Examination, candidates answering questions asked by the physician examiner must only use DSM-5 language as DSM-IV-TR language is no longer accepted.
Online Reference Materials
The following online reference materials may be of use for your exam preparation. These are free resources put out by the NAC OSCE program to provide students with some basic information. These resources are NOT comprehensive:
- The Communication and Cultural Competence Orientation program on physiciansapply.ca
- The Canadian Medical Protective Association eLearning program
- The Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada’s Primer on Population Health
Unlike the USMLE 2CS and USMLE Step 3 Exam, the focus of the NAC Exam is quite different. Based fundamentally on a different set of unique competencies, the NAC Exam is wrought with unknowns. For most candidates, communication, organization and approach to common medical stations are lacking. Taking a comprehensive prep course, such as the NAC EXAM Crash Course with MedApplications is a great way to get oriented to this very important screening clinical exam.
How to Prepare for the NAC OSCE
The following are helpful strategies when thinking about preparing for the NAC OSCE:
- Ensure your medical content is up to date. If you have been active in clinical practice, or have not practiced in a few years, reviewing your medical knowledge is very important. While the NAC OSCE isn’t a medical knowledge exam, basic knowledge at the level of a Canadian medical school graduate is expected. Toronto Notes or Medical School Materials are all that is needed.
- Practice your Physical Exams efficiently. One of the biggest points of feedback we receive is the time pressure associated with the NAC OSCE. When students fail to complete all the tasks required of them within the timeframe. Ensuring your physical exams are slick, and capture all required rubric points will help you. Example: testing for the cranial nerves. Can you do complete a cranial nerve exam in under 60 seconds?
- Partner Up. Getting a study partner is a great way to practice. Through the MedApplications NAC OSCE course, many of our students link up and network for future practice. It is a great way to help each other overcome this very important exam.
- Communication and Organization. Probably the most crucial aspect of the NAC OSCE is staying organized and communicating clearly. This takes practice and focus. Learning how to complete the station versus doing it properly and efficiently are two very different things. Practice makes perfect. Content is not everything. Overlooking how you communicate is often a misstep by many candidates.
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