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The reliability and validity of the OSCE as an assessment of capability within advanced practitioner curricula

28 October 2021
3 min read
Volume 30 · Issue 19

Advanced practitioners (APs) are health professionals educated at master's level to manage entire episodes of care (Health Education England (HEE), 2017; Scottish Government, 2017). Advanced practice is defined by the ability to demonstrate capability across four pillars of practice:

Exact terminology varies across the UK. Programmes of education for advanced practitioners are aligned with the four pillars to enable practitioners to demonstrate capability in all four domains.

It has become accepted practice within AP curricula that capability is assessed using the Observed Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE). The OSCE was instituted in Dundee, Scotland, by Harden and Gleeson (1979) and has gone on to become widely adopted within undergraduate and postgraduate curricula globally. The OSCE is structured using multiple stations that students rotate round, completing tasks specific to that station. As with workplace-based assessments, each station assesses capability in relation to a specific skill or procedure. The justification for the continued use of the OSCE within AP curricula is to allow educators to standardise the assessment of capability at set intervals within a programme of study and to support the translation of knowledge into practice.

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