Mock OSCE 24 June

How Mock-OSCE Is One Step Ahead At Assessing Communication Skills

Written by Gabia Neverauskaitė, Psychologist & Remote Assessment Coordinator,

In recent years, communication has quickly become an important phenomenon in the realm of medical education. Although the Objective Structured Clinical Examinations (OSCEs) incorporate communication skills when assessing clinical competence1, issues still remain regarding the effectiveness of these skills. Perhaps it is important to consider how communication skills are taught in order to understand how they can be improved. 

One of the best known ways of learning communication skills is by using clinical communication models to teach the importance of structuring consultations. Evidence confirms that consultation skills training using clinical communication models, such as the Calgary-Cambridge Guide, positively affects doctor-patient communication2. Developing good communication with patients not only helps them openly express their thoughts, feelings and concerns, but also minimises the withholding of vital medical history information3. Using the Calgary-Cambridge Guide as a way of teaching communication skills, significantly improves interviewing skills among midwifery students3. The model has also improved communication skills among medical students4, medical residents5, and doctors6

However, there are some factors that affect communication including; time pressure, clinical workload, patient complexity, and physical or emotional fatigue7. One study attempted to tackle these challenges by creating an innovative, clinical communication coaching program for medical residents7. Psychologists were appointed as coaches due to their ability to think systematically, conceptualise behaviour, and understand factors involved in behavioural change8. These skills allow them to create feedback that is personalised, developmental, and constructive7. Throughout this program, the psychologists observed live patient encounters, and assessed communication using the Calgary-Cambridge Patient-Centred Observational checklist7. The study was deemed a success as 97% of residents rated their experience on the program as Helpful or Very Helpful. This highlights the effectiveness of psychologists as communication skills coaches and how they could be involved more widely in similar programs to minimise the workload of physician examiners.

Our aim here, at, is to offer the best possible service for all of our candidates. Therefore, we have incorporated a psychologist as part of our team who ensures satisfactory quality control standards are met. As advised by research, the Calgary-Cambridge Guide is adopted to ensure the exam follows a structured medical interview. Our psychologist is also responsible for the supervision of feedback delivered, so that it is as safe and appropriate as possible. Rest assured that you will be in good hands with us!

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