21 July 2017
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A Short Guide to OSCEs

A Short Guide to OSCEs

OSCE stands for Observed Structured Clinical Exam. Essentially, it’s exactly what it says on the tin:

- it’s a method of assessment

- it is not a primarily a written exam, the examiner observes you completing a task

- there are often several stations

- OSCEs are good at assessing you clinically

They are highly regarded as a useful method of assessing students as they remove the element of regurgitating facts and figures that can exist in purely written exams. There is only so much you can assess a student about a clinical subject on paper, and this is why OSCEs are an invaluable part of assessment.

For example – in a written exam it may ask you to explain the pathogenesis of periodontal disease and you may get asked about the risk factors of periodontitis. This will assess your understanding of the disease from what you have learned in lectures and from the literature.

In an OSCE you may be expected to take a history from a patient, diagnose periodontal disease and then communicate this to the patient.

It goes without saying that the academic component in the written exam and the clinical assessment within the OSCE are equally as important as each other.

Example OSCE Questions/Scenarios

- look at this partial denture. Identify 3 errors in the design of this denture.

- hand wishing station (in the earlier years)

- identifying different periodontal probes and scalers

- setting up a dental unit

- determine the IOTN of a patient based on models

- history taking (e.g. Pain history)

- performing a fissure sealant

- Intramuscular injection on a dummy

- recording someone’s blood pressure

- dental charting

- writing a prescription