Preparing for the OSCE

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Vickie Jones

Victoria Jones is a clinical education facilitator at Cambridge University Hospitals Foundation Trust (CUHFT), based at Addenbrookes Hospital. In this blog, Victoria shares her experiences of creating an objective structured clinical examination (OSCE) preparation programme to help internationally recruited nurses pass the OSCE and prepare for their nursing role in the UK.

The OSCE for overseas nurses is an essential part of the international recruitment process, but it can also be a daunting experience for many nurses coming to work in the UK for the first time. Our overseas recruits are a vital and valuable part of our workforce, and at Cambridge University Hospitals we are dedicated to supporting them as best we can.

In June 2015, I joined the clinical education support and research team to lead a new process for overseas nurses. A year on, I have supported 81 nurses through the OSCE process and on to the Nursing and Midwifery Council's (NMC) register, and am currently preparing 40 candidates to undertake their OSCE at the University of Northampton.

So how do I prepare this group of nurses for their role in the UK? Last year, I attended the train-the-trainer course at Northampton, a two-day programme that introduced me to the concept of OSCE. The training provided me with an invaluable insight in to the journey of what is known as the ‘new process nurse', giving me a strong foundation on which to build a successful OSCE programme at CUHFT.

We offer the new process nurses a five-week programme which comprises of two sessions per week, so six hours in total. At the start of the programme they are provided with an OSCE study workbook, with clear learning outcomes and teaching resources. I developed the workbook using the NMC blueprint guidelines, as well as what I learnt during my study in Northampton, and it is a really valuable resource for candidates.

The OSCE sessions are based on the six stations, or work areas, that the candidate will be expected to complete in the real exam.  The first four sessions are based on theory, and the remaining six sessions are return demonstration, focusing on giving candidates the opportunity to demonstrate and practice skills. We ask candidates to play the roles of patient, nurse and examiner, which provides them with an insight and understanding of all aspects of the OSCE process. 

In small groups and pairs, the candidates tirelessly practice things like the admission process, medication implementation, aseptic non-touch technique and basic life support. Once the candidates have completed their ten sessions, they are invited to attend one-to-one tuition with me. This allows us to identify the areas that they need to build upon and develop their confidence in, and we develop support tailored to their individual needs.

The impact of our process on individual candidates really shines through in their feedback. For example, one of our candidates said,   “I came to the programme without any knowledge of what to expect and how to pass OSCE, but I was given the confidence that I needed to get through… Thank you very much Vickie.” 

To me, the OSCE process at CUHFT is successful due to the motivation, dedication and enthusiasm of the candidates. This is evident in our current pass rate, which is 96.43 per cent. It is a real privilege to support this group of nurses and introduce them to CUH, and of course to the NHS.

For further information and guidance on supporting your nurses and midwives from overseas, please visit our overseas NMC registration process web page.

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