Skip to main content

CS made easy

Introducing Your Self:
Knock the door before entering. Wait for a while and then slightly open the door and call the patient by last name
Mr. / Ms. Smith! Hello! I am Dr Chebli, I will be your physician today (Shake hands with the patient and look into SP eyes), nice to meet you! I will ask you some questions and do a physical exam on you, is that fine with you?
Let me cover you up”…and while saying so, DRAPE the patient’s legs up to his belly. Then, “So Mr. / Ms Smith, what made you come in today?”
After SP tells you the CC and stops, first EXPRESS SYMPATHY- say, “Oh I am sorry to hear that, I shall try my level best to help you. I hope you do not mind if I write down a few notes while we talk”.
Are there any other concerns that you have? If yes, then ask:”Anything else?
If multiple problems, then ask:” As you have a number of concerns, what seems more important to you?”
Please tell me more about it from the beginning?
What made you decide to get it checked now?
SP in pain, your answer:” Is there anything I can do to help you feel more comfortable right now?”

Pt in great pain:
Ms. Kenfack, I am Dr Chebli, I will be your physician today. I can see you are really suffering. I am here to help you.
I’ll just need to ask you a few questions and do a quick physical exam in order to know what is bothering you. Is that OK with you?
To make you a little more comfortable, let me cover you up.
Is there anything I can do to help you feel more comfortable right now?
Can you please tell me more about what is bothering you?

Silent Pt:
Ms. Kenfack, Hello I am Dr Chebli, I am the phys on duty here today. Ms. Kenfack, I know life can be stressful and even may be hard to come and see a doctor. Take your time; I am here to help you.
Go get napkins and give to the patient. Wait three seconds
I can help you better by asking some question, do u want talk about what is making you sad?

Important Notes:
Don’t raise eye brows or frown.
It is not necessary to respond after each & every answer.
Avoid phrases or words like “Good”. A simple “Thank you” or “Okay” is often sufficient.
Reserve all the patient education for very end of encounter. [This is controversial; some do counseling during history taking. I believe do what makes you more natural and comfortable during the exam. ]
Let the patient know that you are going to untie the gown or move the drape
Replace the drape without delay when u have done specific region examination
Patient should not feel rushed. Quietly wait for the patient to complete each answer. Don’t fill in words for the patient; the answer should be in his or her own words.
Remain connected and purposeful during physical examination
DO NOT shake hands if pt lying down in pain or shoulder pain
DO NOT say the diagnosis first thinking that you can explain it after...SP jump and say what is that?
DO NOT SAY trauma...say accident
DO NOT SAY ...I don’t know....say I do not know YET
DO NOT ignore pt efforts to take care of his health....congratulate him
DO NOT RUSH during the first 1 or 2 minutes,....take time so SP adapt to you
DO NOT give your back while washing hands
DO NOT stay stand up if pt is laying down, better if you seat and your eyes are same level to pt.
DO NOT forget to reassure and use the word.....let me assure you....
DO NOT move the pt unnecessarily...or too much
DO NOT write the chief complain in medical terms
DO NOT forget to say....DID that answer your you have another question
DO NOT forget to paraphrasing
DO NOT put the pen in your mouth......careful if u have this tendency
DO NOT use leading questions
DO NOT repeat questions
DO NOT sound like robot
DO NOT say ok to everything....are your parents alive? No my dad has cancer....OK :(
DO NOT be afraid to make the pt repeat if he said something that you could not understood
DO NOT forget about the impact of the illness in his personal life

Social History: Now I will ask you a few questions about your lifestyle and personal habits.
Family history: “I’ll ask you some questions about your family history”
Sexual History: “I’ll ask you some questions about your sexual health and practice. OR sexual activities
Gynecological History: I will ask a few questions about female health.

Summarize: To summarize your history, you just told me that you have -------so and so ----- and you also said that so and so ------, is that right”
Is there anything you would like to tell me or add before I start your physical examination?
OR “Is there anything else at all you would like to bring up?


Transitioning to a hand wash and physical exam:
Alright, then, I’ll perform a quick physical examination and then look at your (heart, lung, abdomen etc.., is this okay with you? (Yes). Thank you.
Excuse me for a moment here to put the gloves on OR ”to wash my hands” … “SMILE .
I will keep you informed throughout the physical examination. Do you have any special concern for now?

Physical Exam:
Remain polite and explain what you are going to do and say “thank you” each time you elicit a sign ( for e.g.: I need to check your neck, so if you could swallow for me please? Thank you.
When you make the patient lie down ask him: Are you comfortable?
When you do that please pull the extension out (foot rest)
Don’t touch the patient b4 giving instruction
Keep talking during the examination. Let the SP know what you are looking for.
When you elicit pain. Say I am sorry
Always maintain eye contact when you elicit pain and when you explain what you are going to do
Begin exam in logical manner from head to feet
Listen NOT Auscultate Tap NOT Percuss Press NOT palpate Belly/stomach not Abdomen
Mnemonic for GE: PICKLE- Pallor, Icterus, Cyanosis, Clubbing, Koilonychia, Lymphadenopathy, and Edema feet” along with Jugular veins, carotid bruit if a CV case
Let us start with your eyes, could you please look up for me
Head - Let me look at your head for any swelling, scar or any visible abnormality.

Face – Now I will press on various parts of your face for any areas of pain or swelling (tenderness, edema) please let me know if it hurts.

Ear – Now I will look inside your ear)

Nose – Let me see in your nose for any swelling, discharge or deformity. (discharge, deformity)

Mouth – Could you please open your mouth? Say ghaghaha, lalalaah., stick your tongue aout side and move it from side to side You may close your mouth now. Thank you

Neck – Let me check your neck any swollen glands (lymphadenopathy and thyroid. Could u please swallow for me? Thank you

Hands – Let me look at your hands.

Legs – Now let me check your legs for pulse and swelling, for that I might need to raise your gown, is that okay with you? (Edema, pulsation). Thank you. Let me cover it again.

Respiratory system:
Mr. Smith now I’ll examine your chest. Could you please pull down your gown? Let me help. (Pt – it’s okay) You – thank you
Palpation- I’ll press on your chest, please let me know if it hurts?
Can you please take few deep nice breaths for me.
TVF – Can you please say 99 for me?
Percussion- Now I’ll tap on your chest. Let me know if it hurts.
Auscultation-Now, I’ll listen to your lungs. Can you please take couple of nice deep breaths for me? (Auscultate for full inspiration and expiration)
Bronchophony - Can you say 99 repeatedly for me please?

Right side, 3 positions

Now Mr. Smith I’ll examine your hearts in sitting and then lying down positions.
(check radial, dorsalis pedis, carotid pulse, and carotid bruit in general examination)

Now I’ll examine your heart in lying down position. Please lie down for me. Let me help you in that……….thank you. Let me pull out leg extension to make you little more comfortable. (Sounds good?)
Now I am looking at your neck for any visible pulsation. Now I am looking to your heart for your heart beats.

Now I am touching your chest to feel your heart beats. (thrill, PMI, heave, - note site, location and quality of impulse)

Mr. Smith, now I’ll listen to your heart. Could you please hold your breath for a few seconds? Auscultate 4 areas
Mr. Smith, Could you please turn to your left side for me? Thanks
Mr. Smith, could you please sit again for me? Thanks. Auscultate 4 areas
Mr. Smith, could you please lean forward for me? Thanks. Auscultate 4 areas. You can now tie it back- thank you Let me help

Mr. Smith Now I’ll examine your belly/stomach. For that I need you to lie down. Let me help you in that (remember to pull out the foot rest). Thank you. Could you please raise your gown up?

I’ll listen to your bowel sounds and blood vessels (bell – peristalsis, bruit of abdominal, renal, iliac artery)

Now I’ll tap on different part of your belly. Please let me know if it hurts.

Now Mr. Smith I am going to press your belly first lightly and then deeply, please let me know if it hurts. (Liver-press, gall bladder – hook finger (Murphy) , Abdominal aorta aneurism, Spleen)

Rebound tenderness – Now I’ll press in & release. Please let me know if it hurts when I press in or when I let go (release)- peritonitis

Psoas’ sign – Now I’ll check for your appendix infection, for that could you please turn to your left side. Thank you. I am going to pull your left thigh to your back side. Please let me know if it hurts. (Left lateral position, right leg extension, and pain in RIF)

Obturator sign – I’ll bend your knee and hip. Please let me know if it hurts. (Flex right hip & knee then internal rotation at hip)

Rovsing sign – Now I’ll press deeply. Please tell me if it hurts. If yes, where did it hurt? (press in LIF – pain in RIF)

MMSE (3Q-time,place,person, 3-words-recent/intermediate/remote, 3-command,3-misc)

Okay, Mr. Smith now I will ask you a few routine questions, which I ask all my patinets
I’ll test first your orientation: 1) Where are you now? 2) Which year is it? 3) Who is the president of the US?
Now, I’ll check your memory. See FA for the detail of MMSE
Cranial nerves
Now I’ll check your brain nerve functions

II (optic) – Please cover your Right (then left) eye, Can you please count my fingers? Confrontation (visual field method – finger movements), pupilary light reflex (dim light, direct pt to look far on wall, shine light obliquely on each pupil)

III (oculomotor), IV (trochlear), VI (abducent) – H & X (follow the finger movement without moving head) , convergence (follow the finger movement)

V (trigeminal) – Motor – Please clench your teeth for me. Palpate the masseter muscle

Sensory – sharp dull sensation on 6 face areas(forehead, cheek, jaw)with closed eyes

VII (facial) – Can you please smile / raise your eyebrowe? Close your both eyes. I will try to open it up. Please don’t let me open

VIII (acoustic) – finger rubbing, weber, rinne ( if indicated)

X (vagus) – Ask the patient to swallow saliva (already done for thyroid)

XI (spinal accessory nerve) – Can you please shrug your shoulder (against resistant) for me, Please turn your head toward right (press from left) and vice versa

XII (Hypoglossal) – Can you stick out your tongue and move side by side?

1. - no movement at all
2. –Some flickering
3. – Movements but not against gravity
4. –Movements against gravity
5. – Movements against gravity against some resistance
6. – Movements against gravity against full resistance

Upper limb
(Flexion–at wrist, elbow & Abduction at Shoulder, Extension–at wrist, elbow & Adduction at Shoulder)

Hand – Can you spread out your fingers? Please hold my fingers as tight as possible & don’t let them go. Thank you.

Wrist – Please, push up? Can you push down? Thank you.

Elbow – Can you please pull in? push out? Thank you.

Shoulder – Can you push out? Can you pull in? Thank you.

Lower limb
Hip – Can you push up / push down your thigh? Thank you.
Knee – Can you kick out / pull in your leg? Thank you.
Foot – Can press on the gas pedal? OR can you pull up / push down your foot? Thank you.

Reflex –
I would like to check your jerks. First let me begin with your arms. Can you please clench your teeth for me? Biceps, Triceps and Brachioredialis ( if UL case, otherwise you can exempt it), Knee, Ankle. Let patient know what you are going to do next.

Babinski -Now I’ll stroke at your sole

Sensory- Now I would like to check your sensation in different part of your body. I will start with….

This is dull and this is sharp. Now close your eye and tell me which is what?

Position sense-Grasp big toe and show the pt ‘up and down’ now tell pt to close your eye and identify position of toe.

Vibration sense-

Two point discrimination-

Cerebellar test- now I’ll check your balance and movements.

Finger nose test – please touch your nose and then my finger by your finger repeatedly

Rapid alternate pronation and supination of hand – please do like this,

Now for balance test I need you to step down for few moments. Would you please? Yes, Thank you let me pull out step for you so that you can climb down of table.
Gait - Can you please walk across the room, turn around and come back? Can you please walk in a straight line for me?

Romberg test – please stand up with yours feet together and hands apart and close your eyes. Mr. Smith please be assured that I will not let you fall down ( ask pt to stand with your both feet together and close your eye for 5 second without support-test for sensory ataxia),


Now Mr. Smith, can you bend your back forward facing the floor. Please try to touch your toes by your hands. Ok, now can you bend backward facing the ceiling?
Special test-

Kerning’s sign-flex both knee and hip, then try to extend the knee only?
Now I am going to move your thigh and knee joint and will resume again It’s normal position

Brudzinski’s sign- When you flex the neck, there may be flexion of hip and knees
Now I am going to bend your neck to try to touch your chest.
(Patient resisting for physical examination: Mr. Smith, I can understand your feelings but to clearly understand your disease I have to do this examination. It won’t take more than a minute. Don’t worry I am here to assist you. I will inform you whatever I am going to do.)

Last Minutes:
All right, Mr. Smith, thank you very much for your kind co-operation. Now I would like to sit down and talk over what I think so far.
Ms. ______ your symptoms may be due to a problem with your (GI, Urinary system, Nervous, heart, lung) system, such as an ……… or ……………They might also result from a …………………. Another possibility might be an ……………………
In order to confirm the diagnosis and to rule out more serious illness, we will need to run some test, including a blood test to check the function of your (liver, ling, GI, glucose etc..) and urinanalysis, and a possibly a CT scan of your (head, abdomen, lung, etc..)
 Endoscopy: which involves examining your stomach by means of an optical instrument passed through your mouth
 CT scan: which is a special x rays that produces precise cross-sectional images of anatomical structure
 MRI: which is a non-invasive way to take pictures of the body by using powerful magnets and radio waves instead of radiation
 Echo or Doppler: sound wave pictures
 Colonoscopy: which involves looking at your colon through a thin tube that is mounted with a camera

I will also need to perform a rectal , pelvic, and/or breast exam.
After we get the results of those tests, we will meet again to discuss them in detail along with the final diagnosis and the treatment plan. [from FA]
As soon as I get the results, let us meet again to go over everything. At that time I will explain the details and we will talk about your options for treatment? Does this sound OK? [ from UW]

In case of telephone case: (severe dehydration d/t diarrhea)
Ms. …..from the information you have given me, I am concerned that your child may be dehydrated. She has not urinated since yesterday, and she is weak and drowsy.
It is very hard for me to assess her/him without seeing her, and I do not want to jeopardize her health in any way. For this reason, I am going to ask you to bring him/her in for a physical exam and a full assessment, and we will then proceed according to what we find on the exam.

If patient smokes, drinks alcohol, uses recreational drugs:
 Mr. Xyz, I have noticed that you use/drink_____. Are you willing to quit? Using this ___ can lead to a variety of a medical problems, including _____. If you need any more help from me, just let me know. I’ll be glad to help you.

Smoking :
 “Well, I strongly recommend that you quit smoking. Smoking is a major cause of cancer and heart disease. Are you interested in trying to quit now?
 SP: Yes
 Dr: I would be happy to help you quit smoking. We have many tools to help you do that, and I will be with you every step of the way. Let’s set up an appointment for two weeks from today, and we can get started on it then. Is that okay with you?

 SP: NO
 Dr: I understand that you are not ready to quit smoking yet, but I want to assure you that whenever you are ready, I will be here to help you.

 Another easy way to counsel:
Since cigarette smoking is associated with a variety of diseases, I would advise you to quit smoking; we have many ways to help you if you are interested.

Safe Sex: I would also recommend that you use a condom every time you have intercourse in order to prevent sexual transmitted disease (STDs), including HIV, to avoid unwanted pregnancy (in case of a female)

We can have you meet with our social worker to discuss social situation, and she can offer you a variety of resources.

If it is a psychiatric case, like depression, grief, anxiety, or dementia, ask this question:
Ms. Xyz, would you be willing to talk to a counselor or go to a support group?

Elder person/aged lives alone: Always ask if there is:
 Someone to take care of him or her. If NOT, ask if he/she
 Would like to join an APARTMENT COMPLEX FOR ELDERLY.
 Make sure u have proper facial expression not a blank face when saying all these. Forget that he is an SP and treat him like your mom or dad. You will pass easily.

Elder person lives with his son, a suspect victim of abuse:
 Mr. Xyz your safety is my primary concern, and I am here to offer you help and support whenever you need it.
 Sometimes living with a family can be stressful for the whole household. Have you ever considered moving to an assisted-living community or to an apartment complex for seniors?
 I f you are interested, I can arrange a meeting with our social worker, who can assess your social situation and help you find the resources you need.

A woman who is a victim of abuse:
 “Your safety is my primary concern, and I am here to offer you help and support whenever you need it.
 Every thing we discussed is confidential, but I must involve child protective service if your children are being abused.
 I have you talk to our social worker who will provide you with a variety of resources that can help you.
 It is very imperative that you have a safety plan.

Mr. xyz have you understood everything we have discussed today?
Do you have any concerns or question you’d like ask me before I go?
I understand that you must be worried about your condition. I want to reassure you that I will do my level best to help you.
Ok then. I’m glad that I was able to work with you. I will do my level best to make you feel better.
Thank you for your cooperation, have a good day. Bye for now, take care.

In case Time Falls Short:
“Oh! Mr. Smith, I have called away and I have to leave now. It is good that you came in. I will come back to you as soon as I get free” leave with a SMILE.

You did not finish Questions or PE and only a few minutes are left
Proceed to wrapping up
“ I have got an emergency call on my pager and I need to leave within a few minutes. I will get back to you as soon as I return back. However, before leaving I would like to summarize my findings so far….” Then start counseling.

Points to remember in CIS:
Do not ask leading question
Do not avoid eye contact except when paraphrasing and writing notes
Be nonjudgmental (avoid words like good very good! Excellent. Instead Say ok , Thank you)
Always use lay language. Don’t use CT, MRI, EKG
DO not interrupt the patient while he is speaking. Facilitate by saying Uhuh…uhuh go ahead! Tell me more,
Never alarm the patient

Points to remember when answering a challenging question
first say that you understand his concern
then answer the question appropriately
then reassure
For e.g.: Doc! Am I going to get better? I understand your concern Mr. Steve. Your recovery basically depends on your response to our treatment and your underlying condition causing these symptoms. We will do our best to help you irrespective of final diagnosis and outcome of the treatment. OR

SP: “Do you think I have cancer, doctor?”
Dr: “Well. I understand your concern, Mr.___. I cannot exclude the possibility of cancer at this point. We need to do additional testing. Regardless of the final diagnosis, however, I want you to be assured that I will do everything in my account to help you and I will be available for any support you need.”

Challenging Situations:
SP in pain and asking for pain medication – “Mr. … I will get you something to help with your pain. First, I need to ask you some questions and run a few tests to get a better idea of what is causing your pain before we mask your symptom`s. I will be as quick and gentle as possible.”

Crying , SP is stress, distress, concern or worried– Pause silence for several seconds. Offer the tissue box. Hold his / her shoulder gently for couple of seconds. “That must have been very difficult for you. Any one dealing with problem would feel angry (sad, upset, etc…) Can you tell me about it?” “How do you feel about it? How it has changed your life?”

Light sensitivity – offer to pull down the shades or dim lights

Uncooperative patient for physical examination
 First do as much of the exam as you can with the patient in his or her preferred position.
 Then for remaining exam – explain how important it is to do the exam correctly and ask him to move.
 Acknowledge the patient’s feeling and / or frustration.
 Reassure him that you are there to give him your undivided attention and will do everything possible to help him feel better.
 Let’s now begin discussing more about your discomfort.
 Offer him help to move.
 If the patient still refuses, simply move on and document in your note.

Angry patient –
 Stay calm. Don’t be scared. Let him express his feelings.
 Ask about the reason for his anger.
 “Mr. I can see you are angry. Can I help?”
 “I know you are depressed about your symptoms and I want to help you feel better.” “Here is a box of tissues. Are you able to tell me why you are crying?”

Don’t want international doctor:
 “I understand your concern. But let me inform you that I am a US-licensed physician, fully qualified to manage your care, and I can assure you that I am here to help you today. If you still feel this way at the end of our meeting, I will make a note so that you can see someone else next time. Let us get started.”

Verbose patient. Redirect him. At the right moment, gently interrupt and guide the patient back to discussion of symptoms. USE CLOSE ENDED QUESTIONS TO DO SO.
Dr: “I understand that _____ is important to you, but I want to get back to your problem. Can you tell me more about ___________, please? Thank you

Anxious patient – Encourage the patient to talk
Pain – Patient visibly in pain – Dr: “Mr. .. is there anything I can do to make you more comfortable?”
Poor vision & hearing- tell her where you are sitting and help her with anything she needs or maneuvers she may need to perform. Sit close to him and speak into best ear if one is better. Face the patient directly to allow him to read lips.
I don’t have time. Just give me antibiotics.
 Explain that routine procedures are necessary. Be as specific as possible:
 “Antibiotics treat infections and are not always indicated for the type of symptoms you have. I will need a few minutes to ask you a few questions and perform a brief examination to make sure we get you the correct treatment. After this examination, we can discuss whether or not antibiotics will help you to feel better.”
Domestic abuse:
Have you been emotionally or physically hurt or abused by anybody?
 Safety- Are you concerned for your / your kids safety?.
 Afraid - Are you afraid of? For what?
 Friends / Family Do you have support of your friends and family?
 Emergency plan – Do you have any emergency plan to implement if situation arises?
 Is there Guns at home
 Alcohol
 Relationship with household adult members/father’s reaction toward the kids
 Depression/Domestic violence

Depressed non responding patient – I know this is very tough time in your life, but I assure you that we can deal with this much better together. I really want to understand your problem and help you as a friend and a physician. You said you were perfectly happy and normal before months ago – could you try and tell me what exactly happened months ago that started this?
I want to die doctor – I know this is very tough time in your life, but I also know that running away from problems is not the answer. I really want to understand your problem and help you get your strength back, because I know it is possible. We can deal with this together.
Don’t have money – Not having enough money doesn’t mean you can’t get treatment. We will refer you to a social worker who can help you find resources.
Pt doesn’t know the names of his medication or is taking medications whose names you don’t recognize. – Ask the patient if he has a prescription or a written list of medication he is currently taking.

Challenging Questions:
SP “Doctor, do you think I will be able to move my arm again like before?
Dr: “I hope so, but first we need to confirm whether it’s broken or dislocated and whether there is any nerve or muscle damage.”

SP: “My father had colon cancer. Could I have it too?”
Dr: “It is a possibility. Tell me more about the symptoms you’re having that concern you with regard to cancer.” OR “Mr……..I understand how scary this can be, but I need to be very systematic and careful. So let us take one step at a time. First I need to have you take some blood and urine tests & some x-rays. Then after I study the result with your examination findings, I will be able to give you a definitive diagnosis and explain your options for treatment. You and I will sit down at that time & go over everything in detail, okay?”

SP: “Do you think that I did the right thing by coming here and telling you about my child’s fever?” “Is my child going to be okay?”
Dr: “You absolutely did the right thing. Maria may have an infection that needs antibiotics; we need to examine her here in the office and then decide whether she needs any more testing or treatment.”

SP: “Do I need antibiotics to get better?”
Dr: “Maybe. Antibiotics don’t help in bronchitis, but they will help if we find pneumonia

SP: “Will I get better if I stop smoking?”
Dr: “Well, we still have to sort out exactly what’s making you sick. Stopping smoking should help your chronic cough, and over the long term it will significantly decrease your cancer risk.”

SP: “My father had pancreatic cancer. Could I have it too?”
Dr: “It’s highly unlikely; your symptoms are very unusual for pancreatic cancer. Regardless, some routine blood and x-ray tests should help us exclude that as a possibility.”

SP: “Doctor, do you think I will benefit from this medication?
Dr: ”I need to review your history to better understand your need to this medication

SP: Doctor, am I going to die? – Balance your answer so they neither alarm the patient nor give false reassurance.
Dr.: “Your condition may be serious, but until I get more of the tests back, I can’t really tell you more than that. You should also know that we have an excellent team of doctors & nurses to help you through this”. OR
“I understand your concern. There is no need to be unnecessarily concerned at this time. The most important thing is that you are here now and we will do everything we can to help you”.

SP: “What kind of test is this? Will it hurt me?” - Explain before asked if possible.
Dr: “It might hurt for just a moment or two. I’ll warn you right before it might hurt. Please bear with me; this will assist me in discovering what is wrong and how I can best help you”.

SP`: Is this cancer !!!!!!!!
Dr: Mrs. Hicks, I understand your apprehension, but we need to wait for investigations.
I will keep you informed

SP: Doctor, do you think I have a fracture??
Dr: “It is a possibility, but we must wait for your X-ray to arrive”
SP: I am in pain ! Please give me a pain killer!
Dr: I know it is not easy to bear the pain, but without unless we know what we are dealing with; it will be tough to decide the right pain-killer. As soon as we are done with a quick examination, I will have my nurse treat your pain. Is that fine Mr. Harrison?


Level of consciousness: Alert, lethargic, stuporous
 Full Range
 Blunted: patient does not display emotion; answers in a monotone may speak slowly, etc.
 Labile: changes in a rapid, abrupt, excessive way
 Persistent: persists unduly long-laugh too long
 Mood: describe depression, dysphoric, euthymic, hypomanic
 Anxiety: a feeling of fearful anticipation which is not attributable to real danger and occurs either in attacks or as a persistent state. I t can have physical symptoms such as manifestations of autonomic over activity )palpitation, dry mouth, swearing, trembling, etc. )
 Apathy: total loss of emotion

1 - Ask about thyroid symptoms in: weight changes, depression, amenorrhea

2 - Abdominal pain: ask about black or tarry stools

3 - Abuse: ask about emergency plan, if family and/or friends know about what's going on

4 - Bruise, depression: ask about abuse

5 - Chronic cough: ask about HIV, TB, ACE inhibitors use

6 - CNS case: ask about previous stroke, migraine, seizures, syphilis

7 - Dizziness: ask about tendency to fall towards left or right

8 - Depression: ask about guns and pills at home, auditory hallucinations

9 - DM: ask about vision, sensation, ED, counsel about foot care

10 - Forgetfulness: ask about ADLs, IADLs, social support, head trauma, depression, syphilis

11 - Jaundice: ask about urine and stools color

12 - Hearing loss: ask about exposure to loud noises

13 - If you have to say "I don't know", say "I don't know yet!"

14 - Insomnia: ask if the problem is falling asleep, staying asleep or waking from sleep; frequent movements of legs, hot flushes; order sleep diary for 2 weeks

15 - Menopause: ask about mood swings, family breast and uterine cancer history; counsel about weight bearing exercises (osteoporosis prevention)

16 - Palpitations, insomnia: ask about caffeine intake

17 - Ob/gyn case: ask details about periods, cycles, intercourse, pap smear

18 - Rash: ask about sun exposure, ticks, mosquitoes bites

19 - Pain in hand: ask about repetitive movements, such as operating a key board

20 - Obesity: ask about joint pain, hypercholesterolemia

21 - SOB: ask about wheezing, orthopnea, PND

22 - Swelling: ask about diurnal variation

23 - Psychiatric cases: always check social support, offer social worker help

24 - Thyroid problem: ask about change in voice

25 - Trauma in elderly: ask about abuse

26 - Vomiting: ask about fever, headache, if it is projectile; if yes for any, do a fundoscopy

ADLs: activities of daily living = DEATH = Dressing, Eating, Ambulating, Toileting, Hygiene
IADLs: instrumental activities of daily living = SHAFT = Shopping, Housekeeping, Accounting, Food preparation, Transportation

PE pearls

1 - Any bleeding: order orthostatics

2 - DM: fundoscopy, test sensation and vibration, pulses, auscultate carotids, examine feet

3 - Dizziness: order orthostatics

4 - COPD: check sinus, do a complete cardiologic exam

5 - Confusion, forgetfulness: auscultate carotids, MMSE, fundoscopy

6 - Insomnia: check thyroid, DTRs

7 - Low back pain: straight leg raising test, lumbosacral range of motion, gait, order rectal exam including "saddle area" sensory exam, DTRs in legs

8 - Palpitations: check thyroid, extremities tremor, DTRs

Picky eater telephone case

History taking:

1. Good Morning, Mrs. Smith. This is Dr. XYZ. I am an attending physician here at the medical center. How can I help you today? (My son is a picky eater; I am wonder if you could give me some advice on what I should do about it?).
2. Ok, Mrs. Smith, I’d like to get a few details from you about your son. How old is your son? ( He is 4 years old)
3. How long has he been a picky eater? ( since six months ago)
4. Could you please tell me what is the reason that you think you son is a picky eater? (OK, for example, he only eats some potato chips, candies and drinks fruit He doesn’t like to eat regular meal . )
5. Is his picky eating habit getting worse or getter better ( getter worse)
6. Has he ever eaten well when he got really hungry? ( Yes, he ate a lot when he came back from playground)
7. Does he watch TV before dinner? ( yes, he watches TV sometimes)
8. Does he have any pain in his belly? ( No, he didn’t mention it)
9. Does he have any problems with his bowel movement? ( He has constipation )
10. How many times a week does he have bowel movements? ( 3-4 times a week)
( Now ask about associated symptom)
11. Does he have any headaches? a fever? Cough? Short of breath? Diarrhea?(No)
( Now ask about PAM HUGS FOSS question)
12. Did he ever have similar episodes in the past? (No)
13. Was he ever diagnosed with any medical illness before? ( No)
14. Does he have any allergies? ( No)
15. Is he taking any medications ?(No)
16. Has he ever been hospitalized? ( No)
17. Does he have any problems with his urination? (No)
18. Does he have any problem with sleeping?
19. Does anyone in your family also have the same problem? (Yes, I was a pick eater when I was a child)
20. How many children do you have? ( he is the only one)
21. How much time do parents spend time with him? ( a few hours a day, because both of us work)
22. Who takes care of your child when you are working? ( he goes to day care center)
23. What kind of house do you live? ( very old one)
Then ask Milestones questions ( I use IDIOT mnemonic)
24. Are his immunizations up to date? (yes)
25. When was his last well-child check-up? ( six months ago, everything is fine at that time?)
26. Did he have any infections before? (No)
27. Did you have any problems with your delivery? ( No, everything was fine)
28. Has your family moved recently? ( Yes, we just moved here six months ago)

Well, Mrs. Smith, thank you very much for answering my question. Do you have anything that you would like to tell me about? (No)

Ok, I would like to give you my impression right now. First let me summarize what you have just told me. You said your 4-year-old son has been a picky eater that started 6 months ago. He likes to eat some potato chips and drinks fruit juice but not regular meal. He also likes to watch TV before dinner. He also has constipation for past six months. Is that right? (Yes)

Mrs. Smith, based on the information you told me, I think your son may be experiencing a habitual eating disorder, however, we also need to exclude some other possibilities , such as lead-poisoning or iron-deficiency anemia. For that reason, I would like to examine him personally and order some tests on him before I make any diagnosis or give any advices. Is it convenient for you to bring him to here? (I am sorry; I cannot bring him to the hospital. Would you please just give me some advices over the telephones?)

Mrs. Smith, is there a reason why you cannot bring your son to here? (Actually, my husband is out of town and I have no means of transportation.)

OK, Mrs. Smith, in that case, we have social worker here who can help you with your transportation. After we are done on the phone, I will transfer your call to him; he will help you with this issue. Does this sound good to you? (Absolutely)

Alright then, I will see you once you get to the hospital. Take care.

1. Habitual eating disorder
2. Lead poisoning
3. Iron-deficiency anemia
4. Fiber-lack diet
5. Parasitic Infections

1. CBC and electrolytes
2. Serum lead level
3. Stool for OVA and parasites
4. USG Abdomen

Note: This article has been derived from "Iqbalian Notes" authored by AIMC graduates. If you are the original author of this article and want your name to be mentioned or wish this article to be modified/ removed from this website, please contact us and we would be more than happy to entertain your request. We fully respect your privacy, acknowledge your efforts put in authoring this article and appreciate your hard work involved in it.

Tips for CS

First of all, I am very very
thankful to lord that I passed my CS. I will share my experience to help my
fellow colleagues out there preparing nervously for this exam. Now I know that
there is already huge amount of excellent info regarding CS on this site. I
will just narrate the plan I had followed.


Basic intro:


I dont think I need
to explain the pattern of the exam. But, I would strongly suggest all of you to
watch the official CS orientation video on USMLE site at this link-




Reading material: 


1) First Aid is THE BOOK
for preparing for Step 2 CS. Even if you do only FA, Im sure you can pass.
Infact  I personally know people who did
only FA and still passed the exam. But it is always better to be on the safer
side and read everything you can.

2) USMLE World Notes:
The guidance for history taking and Physical is wonderful. Cases are
respectable too. Would strongly advise to do it in addition to FA

3) Neeraj notes:
Valuable addition. Good tips and few important cases like stress incontinence,
picky eater etc.


These three together are
sufficient and more than enough.


   - Approach:


First, do the history
taking and Physical Exam explanation from FA. Then, proceed to the History
and Physical Exam from UWorld.


Second: Then proceed to
mini-cases in first aid and try to remember them as nicely as you can. For
people who have not taken Step 2 CK, it is better to discuss few concepts you
are not familiar with, with a guy who has taken CK. It will help you a lot.


DONT try to read any of
the actual cases in FA or Uworld before you finish the above two. Case practice
should strictly be to flex your neurons to build up history taking skills.


After you are done with
the mini-cases, you are now ready to start with the cases.


   - Case


Set a timer for 10
minutes and 5 minutes after that, then 8 minutes and then finally 2 minutes.
[This can be done in any Nokia Handset]. This is in accordance with the actual
CS pattern. It is always better to practice with a live partner though skype
partner will also be okay. (I did my entire practice on skype. Did live
practice only for 2 cases and that too on a non-medico)


 Believe me,
when I did my first ever case practice, I was not able to finish even the
HPI in 15 minutes. It’s okay! We eventually catch up with the time limit
after about 8-10 cases. So no need to panic initially.


Once you are able to
finish it in 15 min, I will suggest trying to complete history in 9 min and
exam in 4 min, i.e. total time of 13 min instead of 15 min. This will help you
in actual CS exam.


Few extra tips:


It is always better to
take the CS after you have had some USCE. It will help relieve some anxiety
though not all ofcourse.


Most of IMGs fail on the
SEP that is, spoken english proficiency. So trust you doubts regarding you own
language skills. Many times i have observed that the local American people
found it difficult to understand when I talked fast or in heavy Indian accent.
So try practice talking slowly and clearly. Making an attempt to imitate their
accent is not very effective option.


If you have not taken
the TOEFL yet or got a poor score, I would strongly suggest starting practicing
speaking in English with your friends. Believe me, SEP is a major killer on CS.
When I was reading experiences of people who failed the CS, most IMGs said that
SPs had a hard time to understand them and kept on asking them to repeat what
they said.


I should add here that
you don’t need to worry if you have any accent. They don’t expect you to speak
rapid and fluent English like a local American or like you see in movies. The
only thing that matters is that you should be able to convey your thoughts to
the SP and understand theirs and that language barrier should not stand between
sharing of information to and fro.


Also, try making your
own notes for CS. Believe me, notes made by self will be remembered the best.

 I cannot stress
more on the importance of making your own notes…

Tips to save time on
step 2 CS


Always remember, time is
the major killer on Step 2 CS. So plan your encounters and techniques to save
time. I hope these tips will help you.


1) It is okay to spend
first 45 seconds to note down the patient summary on the board. Now some people
also advised me to write down 3-4 DDs before going in, but I did not prefer it.


2) The start and end of
patient encounter is very very important and will have almost 7-10 checklist
points together. So dont try to save on time here by cutting down on this
important aspect. We tend to cut down especially on closure. Try to avoid that.


3) When asking serial
questions, there is no need to repeat the entire sentences. Like some people go
"Do you have any pain? Do you have any cough? Have you ever experienced
any Shortness of breath?" Instead of that, just be polite and ask in a
questioning tone, “any pain in chest? Any cough? Shortness of breath?". I
think this is also given in UWORLD notes.


4) Try to be as focused
and organized. Like for eg, if you get a case of chronic cough... At once,
things like COPD, malignancy, allergy start flowing through your mind. The
commonest mistake at this stage is to get excited and trying to jump on the
next question. Eg: we ask 1-2 questions about cough and try to jump on things
like h/o weight loss/ hemoptysis, h/o asthma and other allergies, smoking. But
in the meanwhile, we forget to ask the essential 5-7 points regarding cough and
may start moving in the wrong direction.


5) While washing your

Now this is a
controversial topic. Lot of people told me that you are not supposed to talk
while washing your hands as it creates a bad impression.

But what I did was,
while washing my hands; I did not face the sink keeping my back towards the SP.
I stood sideways, so that the sink was on my right side and SP on my left side.
This way, I could just keep looking at SP and asked lot of questions
simultaneously. Thus I didn’t waste a single second while washing my hands. 3
of my friends also continued to talk while they washed hands.

Again, I would like to
stress that this is my experience. Talk to your seniors personally to be more
comfortable in this context.


The only way to avoid
losing points on data gathering:




Try to get into the habit
of following a set pattern during your interaction the patient. I had my own
set of steps which I followed strictly and it helped me a lot. Try to follow
this and it will help you a lot.



While standing in front
of the door when there is announcement for the SPs to prepare for the
encounter, try to keep your mind blank. Take deep breaths. Keep yourself calm
and positive


After the announcement
to begin encounter: Open the slider to see patient info, write down his name,
chief complaint and deranged vitals if any. Formulate 3-4 DDs. No need to write
them. Just make mental note.


Knock on door 3 times
loud enough to ensure that SP heard you.


Open door, enter with a


Greet by saying: “Mr
Smith? Good morning/afternoon! My name is Dr. **. I am your Physician today.


“Let me first make you
bit more comfortable here today.” Saying so, drape the patient.


Take permission for
taking notes “So, would you mind if I take down some notes while we talk?”


“Alright, Could you
please let me know what brings you here today? Or I see that you are having
some (chief complaint). Could you tell me more about it?” (Using such open
ended questions is very important)


After he tells his chief
complaint: “Oh, I am sorry to hear that. Mr Smith, I will try my best to help
you out here”


Elaborate chief
complaint. After that, proceed to associated symptoms. Then proceed to other
questions which you find relevant.


Now don’t forget to use transitional statements. Never forget to use these 5:

1] Now I would like to ask you some questions regarding you past
medical history. Is it okay with you?

 2] (Before asking social
history) Now I would like to ask some questions regarding your lifestyle. Is it
okay with you? So do u smoke….. and so on

 3] Now I need to ask you some questions regarding the health
of your family members which might provide me with some important clues. Is it
okay with you?

 4]  Now I need to ask you some really personal
questions. Is it okay with you? At what age did u start menstruating?........

 5] Now I need to ask few
more really personal questions and I want you to be completely assured that all
the information shall be kept strictly confidential. Is it okay with you? ---
Sexual history….


Before starting Physical
Examination: “Now I need to examine you shortly. For that, let me wash my hands
first.” Proceed to washing hands. While doing the same: “In the meanwhile,
could you please let me know few more things?” I used to perform review of
systems while washing hands


 Alright, now let me start examining you.
Proceed from top to bottom with running commentary. I used to be like “Now
please let me examine your eyes. They look fine. Let me see your ears: look
fine. Now could you please open your mouth and say aah and move your tongue side
to side?” and so on. Remember, use the light from otoscope to examine patient’s
oral cavity. Feel neck from behind.


 Examine only the relevant system in detail.
Examine only 2-3 points from other systems. Ex in patient with pain in abdomen:
Just take a peek at chest and say ”Your chest looks normal to me.” Auscultate
both lungs, Say” Sounds clear to me”


 Don’t forget to listen to bruit in neck in
case of CVS


 Examination of abdomen always starts with
auscultation and then palpation.

Remember, focused examination is the key to save
on time.


Summarize by saying:
“Alright, now let me summarize the information which I have gathered till now.
Please let me know if I am missing anything. You initially had pain in left
side of chest which was continuous and ……. Can you please let me know if I am
missing anything?


 Closure: Remember, this is very very
important. “Okay Mr Smith, now based on the history which you told and the
examination I performed, many possible causes are going through my mind. I
think that *** must be the likely cause though you may also have ** or ***. So
I would like to run some labs on your blood and also some imaging studies like
Xray/CT/USG…. Once we have the results for those investigations, I would be in
a better position to let you know what exactly is causing the problem after
which we can start with the treatment.


 Do you have any questions for me?


 Alright MR Smith, I will see you soon.

Say good-bye, shake hands and leave with smile.


While writing notes, write the DDs and investigations first. And
then proceed with your notes.


Few extra points:


-You have to learn to be spontaneous when history taking is
concerned. Also, you have to individualize each encounter. The above proforma
is just to help you so that you don’t forget any important point. But you need
to individualize it. Eg: If you get a patient with severe abdominal pain in ER,
you skip the shaking hands part.

-If patient’s primary care physician is out of town and hence you
are addressing the patient instead of the PCP, just explain the same to the
patient in 1 line

-Never hurry the patient.


After the exam:


The UWorld notes say that ‘No matter how well you prepare for this
exam, you will always come out of the exam center frustrated and doubting if
you are going to pass or not’

So true!!


The toughest part of this exam is waiting for the result. And all
you can do is ‘suppression’. Trust me guys, everybody commits blunders on this
exam… But still most of them manage to pass. I am telling you the same from ‘personal
experience’ ;) So chill and enjoy your remaining stay in US…


Best of luck!





viraatharsh's picture


All the best



Man, this piece of information is simply awesome...This is goin 2 b so useful..Thanx

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.