Background: Few quantitative nephrology-specific simulations assess fellow competency. We describe the development and initial validation of a formative objective structured clinical examination (OSCE) assessing fellow competence in ordering acute dialysis.
Methods: The three test scenarios were acute continuous renal replacement therapy, chronic dialysis initiation in moderate uremia and acute dialysis in end-stage renal disease-associated hyperkalemia. The test committee included five academic nephrologists and four clinically practicing nephrologists outside of academia. There were 49 test items (58 points). A passing score was 46/58 points. No item had median relevance less than 'important'. The content validity index was 0.91. Ninety-five percent of positive-point items were easy-medium difficulty. Preliminary validation was by 10 board-certified volunteers, not test committee members, a median of 3.5 years from graduation. The mean score was 49 [95% confidence interval (CI) 46-51], κ = 0.68 (95% CI 0.59-0.77), Cronbach's α = 0.84.
Results: We subsequently administered the test to 25 fellows. The mean score was 44 (95% CI 43-45); 36% passed the test. Fellows scored significantly less than validators (P < 0.001). Of evidence-based questions, 72% were answered correctly by validators and 54% by fellows (P = 0.018). Fellows and validators scored least well on the acute hyperkalemia question. In self-assessing proficiency, 71% of fellows surveyed agreed or strongly agreed that the OSCE was useful.
Conclusions: The OSCE may be used to formatively assess fellow proficiency in three common areas of acute dialysis practice. Further validation studies are in progress.
Keywords: dialysis; education; fellowship; nephrology; objective structured clinical examination; testing.