OSCE: friend or foe?
The pros and cons of the objective structured clinical exam
- By: Annabel McDonald
The objective structured clinical exam (OSCE) is a style of practical exam that is used widely in the assessment of medical and dental students in countries such as the United Kingdom, United States, and Canada.12 It consists of a series of tasks through which students rotate. Each task takes four to 10 minutes; examples include patient encounters, written questions, and procedures such as cannulation. The OSCE aims to sample a broad range of clinical scenarios to evaluate competencies in the fields of medical knowledge, patient care, and professionalism, among others.1
The OSCE was introduced in the 1970s with the aim of increasing the reliability of practical exams.34 Before then, it was the “long case,” where students would spend around 40 minutes with a patient before presenting their findings to an examiner.5 Recently, a pilot study found that long case results can show negative correlation to clinical performance as a junior