The Objective Structured Clinical Exam (OSCE): A Qualitative Study Exploring the Healthcare Student’s Experience


  • Sue Fidment Sheffield Hallam University


OSCE, Objective Structured Clinical Exam, Healthcare education, simulation


The aim of this study was to explore the healthcare student’s experience of an OSCE (Objective Structured Clinical Exam). The OSCE is a form of assessment in which the student demonstrates clinical skills, underpinning knowledge, usually in simulated conditions. Historically, it has originated from medical education, and is now being adopted by other disciplines of healthcare education. The OSCE is a new experience for most students, so it is important as educators facilitating an OSCE, that we explore this assessment from the perspective of the student. A literature review revealed a paucity of research in this area.

Hermeneutic phenomenology was used to guide this study’s methodology. Data was collected through semi-structured interviews with students. Analysis revealed three main themes;

  • Anxiety about the OSCE.
  • Preparation was a seen as a coping strategy.
  • Simulation was a further cause of anxiety.

Recommendations for future practice; are that students need to be supported appropriately. Preparation was seen as a key coping strategy, which requires effective planning, simulation needs to be grounded in practice. This study found that students valued the OSCE as a worthwhile assessment, however there are major concerns for students, which need careful consideration by academic faculty developing this type of assessment.


Author Biography

Sue Fidment, Sheffield Hallam University


Dept. of Nursing and Midwifery