Intended for healthcare professionals

Student Practical skills

Tips for the childhood immunisation OSCE

BMJ 2019; 364 doi: (Published 08 January 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;364:j5648
  1. Karolina Kapeller, foundation year two doctor,
  2. Neil Chanchlani, specialist trainee year 2 in paediatrics
  1. Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK

A guide on how to structure your consultation and answer common questions

Box 1: OSCE scenario

You are a final year medical student in general practice. The practice nurse has asked you to speak to the mother of a 1 year old boy who has not had any of his vaccinations. The mother seems reluctant for her son to have the vaccinations and has cancelled multiple appointments.

You have 8 minutes to deal with her concerns.

Communicating with parents about the benefits of childhood immunisation and addressing their concerns is a common objective structured clinical examination (OSCE) station at medical schools in the United Kingdom.

The goal of this station is to assess your communication skills—how you elicit and respond to parents’ concerns, rather than bombarding them with information in order to encourage vaccine uptake.

In this article we give advice on how to structure your consultation and how to answer common questions you might be asked at this type of OSCE station.

How to structure your consultation

The ICE acronym (ideas, concerns, expectations) is a useful tool for structuring your opening conversations in any communications based OSCE station. Using ICE can help you to gauge a parent’s level of understanding and pitch your response accordingly.

Adverse events to vaccines do occur, so you must empathise and validate parental concerns rather than dismissing them. If you do not acknowledge their concerns, you risk losing their confidence and failing the station by showing a lack of empathy and communication skills.

Box 2 offers a structure around which you can base your consultation, with useful tips for opening the station, how to signpost your discussion and bring it to a close.1

Box 2: Sample structure for consultation, with examples

  • Introduction—“Hello, is it Mr/Mrs [parent’s name]? My name is [your name] and I am a medical student. I have been asked to come and speak to you today, would …

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