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How do I take an OSCE?

OSCEs are given in the Clinical Skills Center. You will check-in for the OSCE at your assigned date and time.

Since this test includes patient encounters, you are required to wear professional attire, a white coat, and identification badge.

You will be oriented to the exam and then you will enter the Clinical Skills Center as a group when it is time to begin the exam. Stand in front of your starting station.

After you are told to "begin the station," you will read the instructions on the door and enter the exam room. When 3 minutes have passed, you will hear a message that there are 2 minutes remaining. When 5 minutes have passed, you will be instructed to leave the station and proceed to the next station. Begin in your assigned station and proceed to the next stations in ascending order. There is no talking during the examination, except with the SPs or the proctors.

Basic information regarding each patient will be posted on the door of the examination room. Read this carefully because it will give you the patient's name, gender, age, chief complaint, and the task(s) you are expected to complete. For example:

Bob Robinson has come to the clinic because he has had a cough for one week. Greet the patient and establish the reason for the visit. Perform a thorough chest (lung) examination.

His respiratory rate is 16. Do not take other vital signs. Do not take more history.

For your convenience, there will be an identical copy of this information in the examination room. Do not write on this information or remove it from the examination room.

Enter the examination room when instructed to do so by audio announcement. When there is an SP in the room, introduce yourself as you would introduce yourself to any patient. Ask appropriate questions and/or perform relevant physical examination maneuvers correctly. The elements of the medical history you need to obtain in each case will be determined by the patient's problems.

Wash your hands with soap before beginning any physical examination. Be considerate of the SP and always keep him or her comfortable and properly draped. If you believe a rectal, pelvic/genital, or female breast exam is indicated, tell the patient "I need to perform a ___ exam now." The SP is trained to deal with this part of the physical examination.

All the supplies and equipment that you will need are in the exam room except for a stethoscope. If you do not have a stethoscope with separate bell and diaphragm heads, borrow one from the proctor when you check in for the exam.

You will be observed via video monitors and graded by observers who have been trained to score the encounter according to a standardized checklist.

You are responsible for pacing your time with the patient. If you complete the encounter in less than the allotted time, you may leave the examination room early but you are not permitted to reenter. Be certain that you have gotten all the necessary information before leaving the examination room.

To review a sample history case, click here. To review a sample physical examination case, click here. Please note that exam checklists may be different, depending on the task required.

Begin in your assigned station and proceed to the next stations in ascending order. There is no talking during the examination, except with the SPs or the proctors.

The Honor Code is in effect during clinical examinations. Students are on their honor not to share any information about the stations with classmates who have not yet taken the exam. Studies show that sharing information can jeopardize another student's chance of performing well. Knowledge of diagnosis can lead to premature closure of the patient encounter and thus have an adverse effect on your performance.

Patients who participate in an OSCE are asked to rate their satisfaction with each patient-physician interaction using a standardized checklist. Patient satisfaction with physicians is largely a reflection of their perceptions about non-technical types of interventions such as the communication process and personal concern shown to them by the physician.