What is an OSCE?
OSCE stands for “Objective Structured Clinical Examination.” OSCEs are very helpful in medical education because they allow a student to practice and demonstrate clinical skills in a standardized medical scenario.
Students have the opportunity to demonstrate competency in communication, history taking, physical examination, clinical reasoning, medical knowledge, and integration of these skills. It is meant to be a fair and accurate way to assess competence, as well as identify areas that need more work and practice.
OSCE stations may include:
- Clinical interactions with standardized patients: counseling, examination, history taking
- Examination of mannequins and interpretation of findings
- Computerized cases
- Test Interpretation
- Order writing
- Phone calls with patients or consultants
Why Have OSCEs?
Every LCME-accredited medical school in the United States requires OSCEs to assess students’ clinical skills and the effectiveness of the curriculum. In addition, all medical students are required to take a Clinical Skills exam as part of USMLE. The goals of the UW OSCEs are to:
- Assess whether students are achieving required clinical skills as they move through the curriculum towards residency.
- Prepare students for the required USMLE Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS) Examination.
- Give students feedback on clinical skills to allow for continual improvement.
- Identify strengths and weaknesses in the curriculum.
When are OSCEs Held?
- Foundations Part 1: Spring of year 1 of the Foundations Phase
- Foundations Part 2: Fall of year 2 of the Foundations Phase
- Patient Care: mid-May to end of June following completion of required clerkships
What do the OSCEs Test?
The content and format of each OSCE is selected to test skills and knowledge that students have already been exposed to in the curriculum.
Content for the OSCEs is drawn from:
- The full range of clinical skills and benchmarks taught in Foundations of Clinical Medicine
- Principles taught in Ecology of Health and Medicine
- Principles identified in the goals and objectives of the required clinical clerkships
Only content that has been presented to all students will be part of the OSCEs. More information on OSCEs in each phase of instruction: