OSCE stations are written and reviewed by clinical staff and include current clinical best practice.

Selecting stations from a blueprinting matrix ensures an assessment which tests a broad spectrum of the curriculum’s content in a variety of ways.

The process is not only applied to a single academic year, but also longitudinally across the years.

There are three main types of station:

Consultation

  • Consultation stations are designed to assess the candidate’s history taking, communication skills, professionalism and ability to adopt a patient centric approach to history taking.
  • An actor will play a simulated patient in consultations stations. They will have received a copy of the ‘script’ and advice regarding the standardised manner in which the patient is to be portrayed.
  • As an examiner in a communication station, you will generally take on a passive role and not interact with the candidate, unless there is a specific requirement to do so.
  • If interaction is required then this will be detailed within the station instructions, mark sheet, scenario or crib sheet.

    Examination

  • Examination stations are designed to also assess the candidate’s communication skills, professionalism and ability to adopt a patient centric approach to the examination.
  • The examination may be performed on a simulated patient portrayed by an actor (standardised), a university student, lay person or a manikin will be used.
  • As an examiner in an examination station, you will generally adopt a passive role and not interact with the candidate, unless there is a specific requirement to do so.
  • If interaction is required then this will be detailed within the station instructions, mark sheet, or crib sheet.
  • Performing an examination on a simulated patient who will portray a standardised response to any form of consultation query or a university student if no consultation will take place.
  • Performing an examination on a model when it would be inappropriate to perform the examination on a ‘person’ or when standards findings are required i.e. ophthalmoscopy.

    Procedural skill

  • Procedure stations are designed to assess the candidate’s procedural skills, communication skills, professionalism and ability to adopt a patient centric approach.
  • An actor, university student or manikin may simulate a patient in procedure stations. If appropriate they will have received a copy of the ‘script’ and advice regarding the standardised manner in which  the patient is to be portrayed.
  •  Performing a procedure on a manikin with  simulated patient who will portray a standardised response to any form of consultation query or a university student if no consultation will take place.
  • Performing a procedure on a manikin without a simulated patient or a university student as no patient interaction will take place

    Communication for Clinical Practice is incorporated into all stations.  The balance of communication against other assessed skills will be different in each station depending on the type of station, e.g. History and breaking bad news as a station will have a larger proportion of communication marks than say urinalysis and presenting findings to the examiner.

Station format

All stations are timed for 11 minutes.

Candidates have one minute to read the station instructions prior to entering the station.

Depending on the content and what is expected of the candidate each station will run differently.

A history may be for 10 minutes or could require the student to take a history of presenting complaint for 7 minutes and then answer pre-set questions asked by the examiner.

There are clear timings indicated throughout the station:

  • “Please begin”
  • Single beep at 5 minutes
  • Double beep at 7 minutes
  • “1 minute remaining” at 9 minutes
  • “Candidates please move outside you next station and read your instructions” at 10 minutes.

During the formative OSCEs an additional 5 minutes is allowed for feedback. “Examiners you now have time to provide feedback” at 10 minutes and “Candidates please move outside you next station and read your instructions” at 15 minutes.