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The relevance of OSCEs…

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What is an OSCE? If you’d asked me six months ago I would have stared back at you with a blank expression. Ask me now and ill tell you that it stands for Objective Structured Clinical Examination. I could even tell you about how nerve racking OSCE’s can be!

Such exams are often used in health sciences which includes…yep you guessed it-pharmacy. Which means if you’re a pharmacy student most likely you will be waving a tentative hello in the direction of an OSCE at some point in your uni life.

A brief intro on OSCEs for those that may not be aware; it’s an ‘oral’ exam, a ‘real life’ patient is in front of you and you have to apply your knowledge in real time. Your consultation skills are tested from the questions you ask, the structure of your consultation and the body language you display… all this as well as the timer to worry about? Panic much?! You have preparation time but once in front of the patient (and the examiner not to forget!) the umm and ahh…well it’s best kept to a minimal, as is looking at the floor when speaking-not good!

So how relevant are these exams to pharmacy? Extremely relevant. In fact I wish they were introduced earlier in the course; maybe not the exam itself but definitely the idea in a form of coursework or a practical.

Pharmacist and patient contact can range from very little to regular consultations and although experiences make you better, it is never a bad thing to be more equipped. Whether the patient contact is thirty seconds or five minutes, it is essential the vital information is derived, acted on and the relevant advice is given. Such skills are enhanced with OSCE preparations.

Personally preparation for the exam not only helps grades but also builds your confidence and improves patient understanding. So when you hear you have an OSCE exam to sit at the end of a module, understand that will have to work hard but also appreciate the skills you will gain from this exam.

Good luck to all you future OSCE battlers!

 

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