I was observing the dental students at their OSCE. I could feel the tension in the air. The students have experienced OSCE before. “I think I missed a point in the last station.” “I didn’t have enough time.” I thought writing a blog to prepare for OSCE might remove some of the preventable stress during exam time.

Before OSCE

  1. Know your OSCEs: Objective Structured Clinical (Practical) Examinations are a 5/10 minute station that examines knowledge, skills and emotions. It can be making a diagnosis (collect all information to reach a diagnosis), explaining diagnosis or treatment to a patient, explaining and/or performing a skill (rubber dam, LA), etc.
  2. Rubrics: Know the rubrics (example). After knowing what OSCEs can come for exams, get the rubrics from your course coordinator or the learning eportal. The rubrics will give you the steps that are critical to get the required marks
  3. Practice comes close to perfect: OSCE is a performing act, the more you practice, the more you comfortable. Know what all OSCEs are going to come and practice accordingly. Check the learning outcomes and formative assessments. For example, if it is explaining to a patient, practice with your friends. One friend will act as the patient and the other as an examiner with the rubrics. Time it as OSCEs are timed and practice helps you cover all required in the time given. If it is a performing station, practice with the manikin in simulation centre – example perform LA. This will make it automatic so you can concentrate better during exams.

During OSCE

  1. Manage your stress: Recognise when you get stressed. Few signs are – cannot breathe, breathe heavily, cannot think, feel like crying, getting angry with no reason, profuse sweating, or your own unique signs. If you are under stress, know what to do – breathing exercises, restating the purpose of exams, or your own unique remedies.
  2. Read question carefully: A learning outcome can have different OSCEs. So read what is required from the OSCE station carefully. TAKE A DETAILED HISTORY – means only history and no examination. PROVIDE AND EXPLAIN THE TREATMENT PLAN – means make a appropriate treatment plan based on information provided and explain to patient without jargon. GET INFORMED CONSENT – means explaining pros and cons of all possible treatments, making sure the patient understands and agree to the treatment.
  3. Use of jargon: A patient might not understand medical terminologies. Use minimal as possible. If need to use any jargon, use it and explain in simple words what it means.

I write blogs on Academic Coaching, topics that empower students in their learning journey. If you want to subscribe to email alerts for new content, click here. All blog posts available here.


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