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Observed structured clinical examination as a means of assessing clinical skills competencies of ANPs

24 February 2022
Volume 31 · Issue 4


Observed structured clinical examinations (OSCEs) are a common method of assessment within higher education to prepare for the advanced nurse practitioner (ANP) role. This article reviews a wide range of literature relating to OSCE assessment in the healthcare arena, from an ANP, interprofessional and advanced clinical practice perspective. Theories underpinning OSCE and advanced nursing roles are explored, with relevant supporting literature indicating how established OSCEs can become integrated with other methods to improve outcomes for this level of practice. Alternative assessments are explored with specific reference to the context of the education delivered, and the suitability for higher education today.

This article aims to critically evaluate the use of observed structured clinical examinations (OSCEs) to assess the clinical practice of post-registration nursing students training for advanced roles. It will demonstrate and analyse a rationale for the appropriateness of this pedagogy in education practice today. Reference will be given to the aptitude of this method when identifying areas for student development, with a focus on advanced nurse practitioners (ANPs) who require advanced assessment skills as part of their role.

The Multiprofessional Framework for Advanced Clinical Practice (Health Education England (HEE), 2017) stated that advanced practitioners need a high quality of training to provide enhanced patient care. The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) (2018a; 2018b) states that ANPs are experienced nurses who should be educated to master's level. ANPs must be able to evidence additional core capabilities across the four pillars: clinical practice, leadership and management, education and research (NHS Employers, 2021). NHS England's (2017) five-year plan to provide sustainability and partnership transformations identifies the importance of competence in clinical skills, which must be assessed, achieved and measured. However, Sastre-Fullana et al (2017) indicated that there is ambiguity within advanced roles and many different conceptual approaches. They argued that direct clinical assessment from superiors, peers and structured educational programmes must be used to assess learning outcomes.

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