For medical students and interns, Objective Structured Clinical Examinations (OSCEs) are intense, stressful, and challenging. The better prepared students can be for the challenge ahead of time, the better they’re likely to perform.
If you’re an instructor, administrator, or program director, you should be doing everything you can to prepare your students and improve pass rates.
The Challenge of OSCE Exams
OSCEs are a series of examinations designed to test, measure, and quantify a candidate’s clinical competence. They’re performance-based and intended to simulate real-world scenarios and challenges that candidates will probably encounter early in their career.
Such examinations are common in a variety of health science fields, including medicine, nursing, dentistry, pharmacy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, midwifery, athletic training, and chiropractic care.
During an OSCE, candidates are observed and evaluated as they participate in a series of “stations.” Each station has different requirements and goals, but typically consists of a patient interview and treatment.
Unlike other types of exams that focus on a specific skill or technique, the OSCE examination ideally tests a variety of skills. This reduces the sampling error, but also provides a more well-rounded view of the candidate. Although the exams are primarily used to evaluate, they’re also excellent teaching tools.
Exams matter to students for a number of reasons. First, participants are typically required to pass certain entrance OSCEs before they can treat or interact with members of the general public.
Second, additional exams are usually required in order to be licensed by a medical board. Third, and in the most practical terms, they provide students with a way of gauging their progress and development.
How to Improve Student Preparation
For instructors, administrators, and program directors, OSCE exams should be regarded as a measuring stick for how well your students are being prepared for their career outside the classroom. You can tell a lot about how well you’re doing by studying OSCE exam passing rates, as well as by considering student feedback on their exam experience.
Students consistently rank OSCEs as the most anxiety-provoking assessment exercise they’re expected to complete. The exams not only require proficiency in the subject matter, but their hands-on nature means that students have to possess or nurture proper bedside manner as well.
The goal in preparing students for OSCE exams is to improve proficiency with the subject matter, help them feel comfortable with the format, reduce the stress associated with taking the exams, and — most important — help them learn and improve the skills they need to be effective in their field. Here are some of the ways you can facilitate positive momentum in each of these areas.
- Provide Resources
Make sure students and interns are given as much information and resources as they need to prepare for the exams. Just because a resource isn’t an official element of your curriculum or training program, that doesn’t mean it can’t add value.
It’s okay to offer supplementary information, including videos, blogs, online forums, social media pages, books, and PDFs. Just make sure you vet the accuracy and potential utility of the material before you give it the stamp of approval.
The Internet has plenty of useful resources, but the Geeky medics YouTube page is one of the best. Video seems to be one of the best teaching tools, and this page is chock full of helpful insights.
- Encourage Practice
Watching videos and browsing threads on an OSCE message board are helpful, but nothing is equal to hands-on practice. Students should be encouraged to drill themselves on a daily basis. Whether with simulation mannequins or fellow students, hands-on repetition can instill the muscle memory required to perform well on exam day.
- Recommend Prep Courses
Prep courses exist for a reason. Sure, they demand an investment of time and money, but every student should be encouraged to participate in at least one.
You can find in-person prep courses as well as online webinars. Both can be effective methods of preparation.
- Facilitate Practice Exams
Finally, make it a point to facilitate your own practice exams with your students or interns. These give students the opportunity to prepare, while also giving you the opportunity to witness just how effective their training and education have been.
Leveraging Video Recording
Any type of practice exam is going to help prepare students for their OSCEs, but you can maximize these practice sessions with the use of video recording. Here are some of the advantages:
- When students know that they’re being recorded, they’ll feel added pressure to perform well. This extra drive will ultimately prepare them for some of the stress they’re apt to experience on exam day.
- With a video recording, students are able to go back and watch their performance. This enables them to self-evaluate and identify areas for improvement in a relatively risk-free environment.
- When students are able to observe their performance from a third-person perspective, it helps them gain confidence.
- Video playback enables instructors to spot tasks that were missed/incorrectly performed during testing (but might have gone unnoticed in real time).
When leveraged along with other practice methods and technologies, video recording enhances OSCE exam preparation. If it’s used properly, it has the potential to improve pass rates substantially.
Try the VALT Platform
There’s no digital recording platform on the market that’s as advanced or effective as the VALT (Video Audio Learning Tool) system. It uses the latest technology to provide high-definition video and audio of medical examinations and simulations — and that includes OSCE practice exams.
If you’re wondering about whether to implement video recording into your exam prep processes, give VALT a hard look. Benefits include:
- Video playback that allows instructors to catalog progress and development.
- Multiple camera setups that can be synced to provide playback of different viewing angles at each station
- Access to recorded video content safely and easily from any Internet-connected browser for authorized users
- Ability to observe OSCEs remotely as they’re happening, with VALT’s live-streaming feature
- A centralized server to store all recordings which can handle as much as 20,000 hours of high-definition video
- The option for instructors to conduct exams with a built-in scheduling feature, without having to deal with starting and stopping video: Sessions are automatically recorded, saved, and categorized
If you’d like to learn more about the VALT system from Intelligent Video Solutions, please contact one of our knowledgeable team members. We’d be happy to provide a quote or demonstration at no cost to you!