Amy Arundale, PT, DPT
If someone asked you if you would take a test again, I don’t think there is a single test that I would say, ‘Yea, I’d take that again.’ That was until I took the SCS. Now I should qualify that, I could go without taking the actual exam again. But when it comes to preparing for the test, I can honestly say I loved it!! (Note: In case you were wondering, I am absolutely a nerd and love learning everything I can!)
I decided that I would apply to take the SCS in June of 2012. The application deadline was in late July (this year’s deadline for the SCS is7/31/2013; there are different deadlines for difference tests) so I had a bit of time to get all of my paper work and requirements together. The application itself is long and takes time entering all of your employment and time in specialty practice. I have been very lucky working in a sports environment, so that in 1 years’ time I had over 2,000 hours. (If you have questions about the requirements or what hours qualify as specialty practice hours visit www.abpts.org)
My next step was to gather resources. I talked to a number of people who had taken the SCS and ask them for advice as well as materials. This was helpful, but overwhelming. I started studying but didn’t have direction, know where to start, or really have an idea of what I needed to know. This is where the Proaxis SCS Review Course came in very helpful! There are a few review courses offered by various companies around the country, but I found the Proaxis course very direct and informative. It gave me an idea for the structure of the test, general areas that were covered, and the level of detail. From overwhelmed to focused, this course started to get me excited. I knew I had a lot to learn/review, but it was exciting to have the challenge.
Yes, there are a number of difficulties that come with working full-time and finding time to study. Especially as the test got nearer my weekends were as thrilling as eating, sleeping, exercises, and reviewing at any number of different coffee shops. My taxes and other responsibilities got pushed aside to make time to study. But who likes doing their taxes anyway!?! It’s tough to wrap your head around information ranging from how to respond to lightning strikes and cardiac emergencies to the details of treating a UCL tear from the diagnosis and pre-op through post-op and return to play. At the same time, for me, this information is fascinating! For some people this information might seem all over the place, but I loved having the chance to learn about on the field emergency care for avulsed teeth, orbital fractures, and return to play for various skin conditions. This was information I didn’t know, since I’m not an athletic trainer and reviewing or learning for the first time was fun. Furthermore there was a great deal of information I did know. It’s a huge confidence boost to look at something and realize, you’ve already knew it, you’ve used it in practice, or through your own problem solving already figured it out. At work this was helpful because I could relate patients to different injuries, and in some cases I could apply what I had just reviewed to help me treat or diagnose a patient! The most rewarding part of studying though, was taking concepts that I’d learned in school and challenging myself to make sure I knew them inside and out. Some of the biggest examples of this for me were sensitivity, specificity, as well as + and – liklihood Ratios. Yea, we learned these in school and I remembered SpIn and SnOut, but with everything else we were learning I really only knew them superficially. Studying for the SCS forced me to really sit down, struggle with these concepts, figure them out on a deeper level, and then be able to teach, explain, and work with them. For me, this was really rewarding and exciting!!
So how did the test go? Well I won’t be able to tell you truly until June… But 204 questions and about 5 hours later I walked out of the testing center thinking “Well, I feel better than when I walked out after taking boards, and I passed those!” All in all though, it was a great experience. Reviewing for the SCS gave me the chance to learn number of new things; things that weren’t in our curriculum in PT school, or go back to things that I learned but only superficially. I had fun because this was all information I am passionate about and not only did the SCS give me the chance to review it, it gave me a new perspective on applying it!