The Orthopaedic Clinical Specialist (OCS) exam is a tool the APTA uses to help further validate our profession’s role in musculoskeletal health. The OCS credentials serve as a credibility indicator to our interdisciplinary colleagues. However, as we transcend to a more primary role within the various healthcare settings, it is becoming more and more imperative that we are highly skilled in screening for differential diagnosis and triaging to the most appropriate care pathways.

You should be prepared to be tested on differential diagnosis. However, with that being said, don’t go overboard in studying up on every obscure differential diagnosis you come across in the literature. Yes, anomalies occur in orthopedic clinical settings, but you’re NOT going to be tested on those. You’re going to be tested on your ability to recognize and appropriately triage differential diagnosis commonly seen in orthopedic clinical practice.

If you find yourself answering most questions with an obscure answer, chances are you are NOT on the right path. The OCS exam writers are absolutely NOT trying to trick you. In fact, every question goes through a rigorous review process to ensure questions aren’t unduly confusing. It’s important to be acutely aware of the keywords, red flags, and other indicators that could be pointing to a differential diagnosis, but, more often than not, the answer will be something more common than you think.

In the OCS Advantage, we have included overviews of the most common and relevant differential diagnosis in our study guides.  Here’s a question to help you determine which differential diagnosis you should be spending the most time studying.

The most common sites of referred pain from systemic diseases are:

  1. Neck and back
  2. Shoulder and back
  3. Chest and back
  4. None of the above

Don’t waste time studying things that don’t matter.  We’ve taken a lot of time to create curated study guides that highlight the essentials. We want to see you be successful in passing the OCS exam.  We can honestly say that’s our number one priority. Our entire business is to ensure you pass the OCS exam. Study smarter – not harder. If you discipline yourself to prepare like a test-taker, then we’re very confident you’ll be able to maximize your studying efforts, most efficiently use your time, and – most importantly – pass the OCS exam.

Published by Chrissy Durrough Lugge

Leave a Reply