Practical Essentials for Passing the OSCE

The best way to prepare for the OSCE is to view every patient you see between now and then as an opportunity. Then, keep the following practical tips front of mind for every patient you see … practice makes perfect.

The best way to prepare for the OSCE is to view every patient you see between now and then as an opportunity. Then, keep the following practical tips front of mind for every patient you see … practice makes perfect.

Start with Open Questions

Most OSCE stations have marks for communication skills. The examiner has a story that they want to tell you. Success starts with an open question. If you start asking closed questions too early, you may miss out on important information. Practice with your own patients by opening with “How can I help you today?” Wait until they have finished speaking, then follow with something like, “Can you tell me some more about that?” You may be amazed at what you learn with very little effort.

A Full Examination

Commit to doing one complete physical examination on a patient every session between now and the OSCE. If a patient comes in for a blood pressure script, do a complete cardiovascular examination. If it’s a sore knee, do a complete knee examination. This way, you’re giving your patients a great service, they’ll think you’re wonderful, and you’re getting to practice at least two physical examinations every day.

Develop a Sense of Time

There are no clocks or watches in the exam. You need to get a sense of how long eight minutes is. When you call in your next patient, put your phone in your pocket and turn the timer on for eight minutes (on silent and vibrate mode). After a while you’ll get a sense for how fast you need to move.

Differential Diagnosis

Write a differential diagnosis in your notes for every patient you see. Think about red flag diagnoses. Writing it down makes sure you do it.

Appropriate Tests

Are you ordering appropriate tests? Check the guidelines for all tests that you order.

Be Organized

Practice being organized with your management. These are the things you should think about: Pharmacological management, non-pharmacological management and a handout. Do they need a Referral to a specialist or Allied Health. Can they safely drive? Have you adequately safety netted. Think in terms of short term and long term management. Do this with every patient between now and the exams.

Smile

Smile. No matter how stressed you are, or how bad the previous patient was, walking into the consultation with a smile on your face will make the patient feel special. This is a great skill to practice for exam day.

So, in summary: start with a smile; ask open questions; do a full exam while considering differential diagnoses; check guidelines, be organized and remember the time. Good luck!

OSCE Preparation Course

Medcast has an OSCE Preparation course that helps registrars prepare for the OSCE Exam.  The course includes live practice webinars, that provide participants the opportunity to practice cases and receive feedback from our experienced Medical Educators. Read more about the course here.

{{commentCount}} comment(s). You must be logged in and AHPRA verified to view and comment. Login here.
Dr Allison Miller

Dr Allison Miller

Allison is a GP with over 20 years experience. She is a Medical Educator (ME) for a GP Training Provider and has been an OSCE examiner with the RACGP since 2010. Allison is one of the expert MEs that co-facilitate the Medcast exam preparation courses.

The latest healthcare news from medcast

Vaping - Friend or Foe?
Vaping - Friend or Foe?

Where are we with vaping? Are e-cigarettes the shining knight who will rid the world of cigarettes or dangerous products wrapped up in clever marketing with the 'unintended consequence' of luring young people into the world of smoking?

On being a GP seeking help
On being a GP seeking help

I had an interesting experience at my GP recently. I don’t go to the GP very often. Mostly I don’t get sick. Sometimes I treat my own ills or just soldier on. On the few occasions that I have been to see someone about something concerning me, my overwhelming experience has been of being judged and dismissed. I feel that they think that, as a doctor, I should have not only made the diagnosis but also treated myself. In fact, I should have been better way before I thought to come along!

Let’s talk about self-soothing
Let’s talk about self-soothing

I talk to a lot of health professionals and it amazes me how often people look at me blankly when I introduce the subject of self-soothing activities. As the conversation progresses I can see most of the blank looks turn to some degree of understanding as they begin to acknowledge the familiarity of the concept in their own lives, but GPs in particular are not generally familiar with the fact that teaching people about emotional management strategies is a core part of therapy, and an intervention that is entirely available to them in general practice.

Can I have medical cannabis on PBS doctor?
Can I have medical cannabis on PBS doctor?

I’ve been asked this question twice in the last month. Once by a 70 year old patient who has taken up smoking weed to control her neuropathic pain, let’s call her ‘Rachel’. And the other a young man aged 26 (Sean) who is smoking cannabis to help control his chronic anxiety.

Join Medcast. It's free and you'll get instant access to essential healthcare news, research and more.

Already a member? Sign-in