First-Year Results of the American Board of Anesthesiology's Objective Structured Clinical Examination for Initial Certification

Anesth Analg. 2020 Nov;131(5):1412-1418. doi: 10.1213/ANE.0000000000005086.


In 2018, the American Board of Anesthesiology (ABA) became the first US medical specialty certifying board to incorporate an Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) into its initial certification examination system. Previously, the ABA's staged examination system consisted of 2 written examinations (the BASIC and ADVANCED examinations) and the Standardized Oral Examination (SOE). The OSCE and the existing SOE are now 2 separate components of the APPLIED Examination. This report presents the results of the first-year OSCE administration. A total of 1410 candidates took both the OSCE and the SOE in 2018. Candidate performance approximated a normal distribution for both the OSCE and the SOE, and was not associated with the timing of the examination, including day of the week, morning versus afternoon session, and order of the OSCE and the SOE. Practice-based Learning and Improvement was the most difficult station, while Application of Ultrasonography was the least difficult. The correlation coefficient between SOE and OSCE scores was 0.35 ([95% confidence interval {CI}, 0.30-0.39]; P < .001). Scores for the written ADVANCED Examination were modestly correlated with scores for the SOE (r = 0.29 [95% CI, 0.25-0.34]; P < .001) and the OSCE (r = 0.15 [95% CI, 0.10-0.20]; P < .001). Most of the candidates who failed the SOE passed the OSCE, and most of the candidates who failed the OSCE passed the SOE. Of the 1410 candidates, 77 (5.5%) failed the OSCE, 155 (11.0%) failed the SOE, and 25 (1.8%) failed both. Thus, 207 (14.7%) failed at least 1 component of the APPLIED Examination. Adding an OSCE to a board certification examination system is feasible. Preliminary evidence indicates that the OSCE measures aspects of candidate abilities distinct from those measured by other examinations used for initial board certification.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anesthesiology / standards*
  • Certification / standards*
  • Clinical Competence
  • Communication
  • Educational Measurement*
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency
  • Learning
  • Professional Role
  • Quality Improvement
  • Specialty Boards
  • Ultrasonography
  • United States