PLAB Exam

PLAB 2 Syllabus

PLAB 2 Syllabus:
The main skills tested in the PLAB 2 (OSCE Examination) - communication, history taking, clinical examination, practical skills, and emergency management - are defined in detail below.

Clinical examination
    a. You will be assessed on your ability to conduct a physical examination of a standardised patient. A standardised patient is an actor who has been trained to display signs as and when required by the station. In a limited number of stations, a real patient may be used. In certain circumstances, the examination will be carried out on a manikin or model.
    b. You are expected to be competent to carry out any basic physical examination. Examples are examination of the chest, heart, breast, hand, hip, knee and shoulder. You must be able to perform a rectal or bimanual vaginal examination. You must also be able to use the appropriate equipment in carrying out an examination of, for example, the ear or the eye.
    c. In addition, the candidate’s ability to maintain effective records may be tested through the writing-up of findings from a physical examination. The marking will focus on completeness (date, time, name of author), legibility and clarity.

    d. Examination of the mental state is treated as a form of clinical examination for the purpose of this test.

    e. You will also be marked on your ability to treat a patient you are examining with respect for their privacy and dignity and attention to their comfort. You will need to take this into account, while bearing in mind that you have only five minutes for each station.

Practical skills
    a. You will be assessed on your ability to perform common practical procedures, examples of which you are given below. According to the nature of the procedure, you may be asked to deal with a patient or a manikin or model.

    b. The practical skills may include:
    • Taking blood pressure
    • Venepuncture
    • Inserting a cannula into a peripheral vein
    • Giving intravenous injections
    • Mixing and injecting drugs into an intravenous bag
    • Giving intramuscular and subcutaneous injections
    • Suturing
    • Interpreting an ECG, X-rays or results of other investigations
    • Basic respiratory function tests
    • Bladder catheterisation
    • Taking a cervical smear
    • Safe disposal of sharps


Communication skills
    a. Communication skills are tested through the observation of interaction between the candidate and another person, usually a simulated patient or the examiner. You are expected to know the major legal and ethical principles set out in Duties of a Doctor.

    b. Examples of the communication skills which may be tested are:
    • Explaining diagnosis, investigation and treatment
    • Involving the patient in the decision-making
    • Checking understanding
    • Communicating with relatives
    • Communicating with health care professionals
    • Breaking bad news
    • Seeking informed consent for an invasive procedure or a post-mortem
    • Dealing with anxious or angry patients or relatives
    • Giving instructions on discharge
    • Giving advice on lifestyle, health promotion or risk factors


History taking
    a. The following are examples of symptoms of presenting patients. You should be competent in taking a history from any of these patients and reaching an appropriate diagnosis, if required.
    • Diarrhoea
    • Wheeze
    • Vaginal bleeding
    • Palpitations
    • Abdominal pain
    • Headache
    • Anxiety
    • Weight loss
    • Joint pain
    • Ear pain
    • Difficulty in swallowing
    • Episodes of loss of consciousness

Emergency management
a. Examples of emergency management situations include:
  • Dealing with post-operative collapse
  • Acute chest pain
  • Trauma assessment (initial and secondary)
  • Administer oxygen therapy safely
  • Basic adult and paediatric cardio-pulmonary resuscitation
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