Objective: To compare and assess clinical competence among final year students in two British medical schools using a standardised objective structured clinical examination (OSCE) in obstetrics and gynaecology.
Design: A comparative study of an OSCE with stations designed to test student abilities in history-taking, physical examination, interpretation of data or results, interpersonal skills, practical procedures, as well as factual knowledge.
Subjects: Two groups of final year medical students from two British medical schools.
Methods: An OSCE of 26 stations.
Results: The standardised OSCE was simple to organise and conduct once the content had been decided. Analysis of the results revealed significant differences in mean marks between the two sets of students in six stations, and in eight stations the mean score was less than five for one or other sets of students. The reasons for the differences between the medical schools and the poor performance of the students at some stations were investigated and possible causative factors identified.
Conclusions: We have shown that an OSCE is suitable for testing clinical competence of students within and across medical schools, is able to highlight differences in standards between institutions, and can identify areas where teaching methods and/or course content are deficient.