5 June 2017
Flick through your healthcare student-dominated Twitter feed and you’ll see many tweets of worry about impending OSCE exams complete with the clichéd ‘I’m definitely going to fail this’ attitude (I admit to tweeting ‘I can’t wait to fail those’!). OSCEs don’t have to be scary, and this is why...
An OSCE is a word familiar to many of the students across the Medical Science and Health, Social Care and Education faculties. It stands for Objective Structured Clinical Examination so it is basically a practical exam about what you have learnt this year. You are given multiple stations to visit and perform a task, either practical or verbal in front of an independent examiner and mock patient.
In Healthcare Science, a new up-and-coming way of being examined on the cardiac portion of the degree is through an OSCE. It is a style that I rather like as I find it easier to show someone my knowledge rather than stress out about whether I can remember which direction the curve on an oxygen-haemoglobin dissociation curve faces (for the record, I do not remember this under pressure!). It was a really positive experience and my grade definitely reflects that. I had a wonderfully friendly patient who did not mind being the subject of my exam and it was good that they had a normal heart too!
I truly think that OSCEs are not something to provoke fear. This skill you’re being told to exhibit is probably something that you have done every day or week for the entirety of your placement. This is a skill that you’ve been able to develop and fine-tune over months and months and something that you feel like you’re actually pretty good at (as much as you don’t want to admit). I used my recent ECG OSCE as a way to show off what I have been working so hard to achieve over the last few months!
All things considered, my advice to those of you who are moving away from the security of first year or even joining for the first time would be to not worry when the word OSCE is being used and get ready to show them that you’re the best student healthcare professional that you can be!