Unintentional failure to assess for experience in senior undergraduate OSCE scoring.Med Educ. 2008 Jul; 42(7):669-75.ME
One goal of undergraduate assessment is to test students' (future) performance. In the area of skills testing, the objective structured clinical examination (OSCE) has been of great value as a tool with which to test a number of skills in a limited time, with bias reduction and improved reliability. But can OSCEs measure undergraduate internship expertise in basic clinical skills?
Undergraduate students (n = 32) were given a questionnaire listing 182 basic clinical skills. We asked them to score the number of times they had performed each skill during their internships (a 12-month period in Year 6). We assessed the students at the end of Year 5 (before the start of their internships) and again at the start of Year 7 (undergraduate training takes 7 years in Belgium, with internships during Year 6), using a 14-station OSCE assessing basic clinical skills. Global ratings were used to score performance. The relationship between internship experience and the OSCE Year 7 score was analysed using a linear regression model, controlling for variation in OSCE scores from Year 5. A multi-level analysis was performed considering students as level-1 units and stations as level-2 units.
Year 7 OSCE scores (post-internships) were not affected by the number of times that students practised basic medical skills during their internships.
Scores on OSCEs do not seem to reflect clinical expertise acquired during internships. Other more integrated assessment methods may prove to be more valid for testing final undergraduate skills levels.