Objective: To introduce a new method of assessment; an observed structured clinical examination (OSCE) into a postgraduate course for rheumatology clinical nurse specialists.
Method: The OSCE was introduced into a physical assessment module, which focused on the nurses' ability to perform an examination of patients' shoulders, knees and hands. A modified blueprinting exercise was used to ensure adequate sampling of the different components of the syllabus. This resulted in five active stations and one rest station. The active stations included history-taking, physical examination of the shoulder, knee and hand complexes and multidisciplinary management plans. To enhance authenticity real, rather than simulated, patients were used where practical.
Results: All 11 students passed all stations, the lowest score related to history-taking and the highest score related to devising a management plan. All 11 students rated the OSCE a worthwhile experience reflecting the learning outcomes of the module and recommended that the OSCE should be used to assess the next cohort of students. Eight students found the OSCE too 'anxiety-provoking' and did not want this method of assessment to be used in other modules. All examiners felt this mode of assessment was more valid than the previous assessment format of a viva on a single patient.
Conclusion: This was the first time an OSCE was used in a postgraduate course to assess the physical examination skills of rheumatology nurse specialists. The course faculty, examiners and students found it was a reliable and valid means of assessment.
2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd