COVID was clearly an interruption during the past two years for most medical schools and students nearing the end of their studies. At Oceania University of Medicine (OUM), one of the most unfortunate casualties was the Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE), the final clinical exam among a medical student’s long list of graduation requirements. Thankfully, OSCEs have returned to OUM.

The OSCE Story

Through a series of standardized scenarios, OSCEs assess student clinical skills following completion of their final clinical rotation.

“At most universities, the OSCE is a student’s final formal assessment. They were first developed in the mid-1960s as a way to objectively assess a medical student’s clinical skills,” says Dr. David Mountford, Associate Dean for Australia, who has helped OUM students from Australia, New Zealand, and Samoa prepare for their OSCE. Dr. Khrystal Boone, OUM’s Dean for North America helps OUM’s US and Canadian students with OSCE preparation.

Format, Scoring, and Preparation

An OSCE is a group of stations representing ten-minute clinical scenarios where individual candidates are evaluated by impartial examiners utilizing either real or simulated patients. Exams cover several disciplines and are conducted in one day, some in the morning, some in the afternoon. Students are given a specific time limit to complete each one.

“In addition to students being given a numeric score at each of their stations, examiners ask themselves a simple question: ‘Is this person competent enough that I would hire him or her as a first-year intern?’ If the answer is ‘no,’ a student fails the station,” says Dr. Mountford.

To ready themselves for the OSCEs, OUM students present and examine OSCE-like cases during an optional University prep course.

Passing the OSCE is a graduation requirement at OUM and most other medical schools, as well as a requirement of most licensing bodies and global accreditation agencies.

OUM was founded in 2002 to address the physician shortage in its home country of Samoa and in other Pacific Island countries. Today its live virtual curriculum is taught by faculty in numerous global locations to 300+ students residing primarily in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Samoa, and the United States — the same countries where most of its graduates are licensed practicing physicians or in postgraduate training. OUM is accredited by the Philippine Accrediting Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities, is listed in the World Health Organization’s World Directory of Medical Schools, and is recognized by the Education Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates.

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