Return of the final assessment moves students on to graduation

Congratulations to OUM’s Australian students who recently passed their OSCEs, their “Objective Structured Clinical Examinations.”

“At most universities, OSCEs are a student’s final formal assessment,” says Dr. David Mountford, Associate Dean for Australia, who joined OUM in early 2021 to construct and administer OSCEs. He also designed and teaches OUM’s online preparation course for the exams.

The standardized scenarios presented during OSCEs assess students’ clinical skills after their final clinical rotation. Passing them is a graduation requirement at OUM and most other medical schools, as well as a requirement of most licensing bodies and global accreditation agencies, like OUM’s (the Philippine Accrediting Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities, PAASCU).

OUM was finally able to conduct OSCEs in November in Brisbane, the first offering since April 2021. A session had been scheduled for July, but COVID travel restrictions in Australia and New Zealand postponed them. The November session was also scaled back because of border closures — only Queensland and Western Australia students were able to participate.

“COVID has played havoc with the lives of all medical students,” says Dr. Mountford. ”That inability to pass this final clinical exam also meant there were not enough medical school graduates to fill internship positions.”

Thankfully for OUM students, and for post-graduate coordinators in Australia and New Zealand, two more OSCE sessions have been booked for February, a few short weeks away. “We hope these will ‘clear the deck’ of students forced to delay their graduation because of COVID,” says Dr. Mountford, who also emphasized the importance of preparation to a candidate’s success.

Kudos on earning perfect scores

Two Australian students distinguished themselves by earning perfect scores during their OSCEs, Hollie McBride of Claremont North, Western Australia, and Derek Ross of Bonbeach, Victoria.

“Students who earn perfect scores set themselves apart as extremely competent, professional, bright, and caring individuals with a wonderful work ethic,” says Dr. Mountford. “In addition to their high scores, Hollie and Derek consistently turned up for our Sunday evening prep courses and were willing and engaged participants.” he adds.

One school of thought, regarding the attainment of clinical skills and critical thinking, sees these skills as “something you pick up along the way,” according to Dr. Mountford — who disagrees.

“My view has always been that clinical skills need to be taught, and a large part of the OSCE Prep Course is involved with getting the students to think clinically. Both Hollie and Derek latched onto critical thinking very well. It is a wonderful tool that helps each consultation ‘work’ better.” he says.

Hollie and Derek both credit their OSCE success to the new prep course.

“I attribute my OSCE result to Dr. Mountford’s weekly preparation sessions and to the 100s of simulated OSCEs I did over the couple of months leading up to the exam. My advice to other students is to attend Dr. Mountford’s sessions while also putting in the hours with your study partner. There is no substitute for these two things,” says Derek who immediately turned to preparing for the Australian Medical Council (AMC) MCQ which he will sit next month.

Originally planning to complete his final clinical rotations in Australia, Derek found himself in Samoa, OUM’s home, when COVID broke out. Unable to leave the country, he completed his remaining clerkships at TTM Hospital, the medical school’s primary teaching facility. Hollie completed all her clinical rotations at TTM, under the direction of Dr. Viali Lameko, Dean for Samoa and the Asia-Pacific.

“I had a period of about four months between finishing rotations and returning to Australia before I could sit my OSCE. I truly believe this was the perfect amount of time for me to consolidate the knowledge I had gained and adapt it for OSCEs. Dr. Mountford’s sessions with other OUM students really gave me a guided and structured approach on how to prepare,” says Hollie, who also is preparing for the AMC MCQ, which she will sit in the first half of 2022.

(January 2022)