Education Lessons Nonfiction Observations

The Oral Exam (VIII).

Really, the most prominent emotion I felt as I walked out of the building was relief. I didn’t care during those moments if I had passed or failed; I only cared that I was done.

As I had mentioned earlier, there are arguably many flaws with this oral exam (live patients are not standardized, the examiners are not necessarily standardized, etc.). Was the exam as bad as I had imagined? Well, no. Did I have any horror stories to tell? Not really.

Would I have to do this all over again—pay the $1350, book a hotel room, make travel arrangements to go to another city, restudy, etc.?

As I exited the building and felt the breeze sneak into my suit, I thought, I don’t think so… right?

People began talking on the bus. It was the kind of conversation that I never enjoyed overhearing and have always tried to avoid.

“How do you think you did?”

“I didn’t understand what they were trying to ask with that vignette—what did you end up saying?”

“Oh, is that what you said? You think that’s what they were trying to get at?”

The air in the bus was warm and still; it had that tour bus smell that again reminded me of those early mornings at UCLA when the marching band piled into a series of commuter buses to go to the Rose Bowl for football games.

A few people were still comparing notes and, restless, I fished my cell phone out of my bag and exited the bus. Hearing these conversations was not helping me: We had no way of confirming or correcting our responses now. I craved distraction.

I had brief conversations with a few people as I ambled back and forth along the length of the bus. The Spring breeze was cool against my neck. People congratulated me for completion of the exam. They wished me safe travels back to New York. They hoped I would treat myself to a cookie. Or two. Or several.

(Okay, only I wanted “several”.)

Only when the bus driver appeared did I saunter back into the bus. The engine was soon rumbling throughout the metal rectangle on wheels.

A few people continued to talk with each other on the way back to the hotel. Most people fell silent, though, ostensibly napping or staring out the windows. Trapezoids of sunlight stretched into the bus from the windows and slowly travelled up and down the center aisle.

I tried to read a book, but couldn’t concentrate sufficiently on the story line. I leaned against my travel bag and pushed the sleeves of my suit up my arms. Fields rushed past; then small suburb communities; then the river; then the buildings of Boston.