Most difficult part of the OSCE


The OSCE is a time sensitive, multi-layered, modular exam with many moving parts. It is also the final step to joining the UK NMC register and we do understand your worries as you get closer to joining the register. Unfortunately, Covid19 related lockdown has created frustrations and further anxieties.

This piece to meant to address common concerns expressed to us by nurses.

Finishing the Skill or Scenario on Time

We find in training that this is often a problem. If you have found when practicing the skills, you are running out of time, look at how you can be more economical with your time. Are you talking too much to the patient or over-explaining what you are doing?

In reality, you do not need to explain to the examiner exactly what you are doing, just verbalise the steps as you do them if required. Only say out aloud steps the examiner cannot see you doing, ie checking expiry dates and the validity of packaging or reading the medication chart.

Speak at a natural pace, don’t rush though – you must be able to communicate effectively with the patient. Practice introducing yourself to the patient, sounding confident, with warmth and professionalism in your tone and manner.

As a nurse you do this daily anyway, expressing these qualities in the exam, is sometimes more challenging. You can obtain feedback from our online program if required, by sending videos of yourself demonstrating the skills.

Knowing all Drugs Commonly Used in the UK

You are not expected to know all the common medications used in the UK. You can however familiarise yourself with many drugs used in the OSCE, through our online training. The best tip we have for nurses to use the online BNF (British National Formulary) resource to prepare yourself, and how to use this resource that is available in the Implementation station. Link to the BNF

You do need to become familiar with the layout of the OSCE MAR chart, as it is likely to be quite different to the ones you are presently used to. This is all included in the online training, and the quizzes and videos help to reinforce your learning.

Remembering all the Steps in the Skills Stations

There are 10 skills presently for you to become familiar with ANTT (Aseptic Non-Touch Technique), IM (Intramuscular injection), SC (Subcutaneous injection), BLS (Basic Life Support), PEFR (Peak Expiratory Flow Rate), AIM (Administration of Inhaled Medication), CSU (Catheter Sample of Urine), ROC (Removal of Urinary Catheter), MSU (Midstream Urine) and Fluid Balance chart.

The procedures should follow The Royal Marsden Manual of Clinical Nursing Procedures, 9th Edition.

All skills must be completed within a set amount of time between 8 and 15 minutes, depending on the skill.

There are multiple steps in most of the stations and they all require practice to achieve confidence and competence.

Warning!! Careful watching YouTube videos! After a review of all OSCE training videos on YouTube, we have concluded that often the trainers in the videos do not follow the OSCE criteria. This is very dangerous to the nurse as they will fail if the follow she of these trainers without proper training and learning. It’s no wonder there is so much confusion and disillusion around the exam itself.

You can practice each skill after watching our exclusive videos, safe in the knowledge that we do adhere to the marking criteria, and the steps of the Royal Marsden. If you enrol for marking, you can send videos to us and we will supply critical feedback.

Ultimately, you have to learn all the steps within the skills stations, and be able to demonstrate them effectively under exam pressure. This is why we encourage all candidates to join us at face to face training in the UK, although many employers will provide training, we guarantee our training will cover everything in the exam.

When will the OSCE Change?

Nurses report worrying about when the OSCE will change to 10 stations, rather than the 6 that are currently tested. The answer is, the change will definitely not take place until the end of 2020 at the earliest. The changes were scheduled to happen in June this year, but with lockdown starting in March, the centres were unable to move ahead with the plans. We have direct contact with the lead examiners at the Competence Test Centres and can confirm this firsthand information.

When will the CTCs (Competence Test Centres) reopen?

Many nurses also report worrying about when the CTCs (Competence Test Centres) will reopen for examining, since so many are awaiting their PINs to join our permanent UK NMC register.

So, although we do not know the exact dates for the centres reopening, we do know they are working towards reopening soon. The centres are working hard to establish new social distancing rules and put in place new stringent hygiene measures, in light of the Covid19 pandemic.

We see this is a real concern many nurses who are either in the UK now or awaiting their relocation to the UK, due to expiry of compliance documents. Please do email the NMC with individual concerns, and we will strive to keep you updated with the latest news from the test centres and CTCs.

Please do contact us with any further concerns and one of our expert trainers will try to assist you.


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