objective structured clinical examination, what will your osce test you on?, booking your osce, preparing for the osce, osce results, standards of proficiency for nursing associates

What are OSCE skills?

By Keith Pilkington

​Following the latest advice from the UK government, all OSCE tests have been suspended until further notice due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.

Overseas nurses will be required to prepare for, and take, an Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE); a practical exam designed to assess your ability to competently apply your skills and knowledge in a clinical setting in the UK.

What will your OSCE test you on?

It’s currently made up of six stations. You will be asked to complete three clinical skill stations that you’re likely to experience whilst working in the UK. Then, there will be three stations based on a scenario, during which you’ll be asked to consider ongoing assessment, implementing care and ongoing care for a patient.

Booking your OSCE

You’ll only be able to book your OSCE once the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has told you that you need to take the test of competence – which is both the Computer Based Test (CBT) and the OSCE.

Preparing for the OSCE

Remember, the exam is in place to test your ability to apply knowledge to the care of patients. This includes communication skills and the ability to handle unpredictable patient behaviour. There’s online support and reading material designed to help you prepare for the OSCE.

The OSCE is designed against the Standards of Proficiency for Nursing Associates and the Code, which presents the professional standards that all nursing associates must maintain in order to be registered to practice in England.

How long is the OSCE exam?

For each separate station, you will have five minutes to read the instructions and prepare, and then 10-17 minutes to complete the assessment, depending on which one it is.

Where can I take the OSCE exam?

You must complete your OSCE in the UK, at an authorised test centre. There are now three universities that are approved OSCE test centres:

Your OSCE results

You’ll receive your OSCE results via email, which should be within five working days. You can sit the exam a maximum of three times as part of your application but will need to wait a minimum of 10 working days between each sitting. If you’re unable to pass on your third attempt, your application will close, and you’ll need to start a new application if you’d still like to register with the NMC.

For more information about overseas worker requirements, read our collection of blogs.