Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Assessment of clinical competence using objective structured examination.

Br Med J 1975; 1 doi: (Published 22 February 1975) Cite this as: Br Med J 1975;1:447
  1. R M Harden,
  2. M Stevenson,
  3. W W Downie,
  4. G M Wilson


    To avoid many of the disadvantages of the traditional clinical examination we have introduced the structured clinical examination. In this students rotate round a series of stations in the hospital ward. At one station they are asked to carry out a procedure, such as take a history, undertake one aspect of physical examination, or interpret laboratory investigations in the light of a patient's problem, and at the next station they have to answer questions on the findings at the previous station and their interpretation. As they cannot go back to check on omissions multiple-choice questions have a minimal cueing effect. The students may be observed and scored at some stations by examiners using a check list. In the structured clinical examination the variables and complexity of the examination are more easily controlled, its aims can be more clearly defined, and more of the student's knowledge can be tested. The examination is more objective and a marking strategy can be decided in advance. The examination results in improved feed-back to students and staff.