Scenarios for OSCEs
Each station has a station descriptor sheet available both outside and inside each station. The station descriptors may change from one test to the next.
Find some sample station descriptors for OSCEs below.
Why an applicant might fail an OSCE
Over the first six years of the test, 28% of applicants, on average, failed the OSCEs at the first attempt. On the second attempt, 15% of the applicants, on average, failed. This is the case even when the sample scenarios given on the webpage form part of the OSCEs.
The failure rate needs to be viewed against the backdrop that the OSCEs are based on the NMBI standards and requirements for Irish-trained general student nurses. Therefore the OSCEs reflect what an RGN working as first year staff nurse in a general hospital (or comparable) would be expected to know and do in a safe and competent manner.
As applicants are already trained as general nurses in their own country, an exploration as to why some are failing might be useful for prospective employers, recruitment agencies and future applicants.
Notwithstanding that a certain level of examination anxiety is normal, the following observations are offered as mere suggestions as to possible factors that may be contributing to some applicants failing.
- Relevant experience: It would appear that some applicants, although qualified for a number of years, may not have had recent relevant experience in a general hospital. Obviously, this is not the business of RCSI, but might be something prospective employers/recruitment agencies may wish to explore.
- Lack of preparation: Some applicants appear to be ill-prepared for the test. A test generally opens 3.5 months in advance. Each applicant should assess how much preparation is essential for them. This should be factored into account if applying for an earlier test date. As a starting point in preparing for the test, applicants are strongly advised to be fully familiar with the most recent information on this website including all links and to be aware that additional reference material is frequently added. It is recommended that applicants practise filling in the documentation that may be used at the OSCEs.
- Rote learning: Preparation for any examination is vital. However, nursing is not just about knowledge but it is also about the application of that knowledge to ensure safe delivery of patient care. It would appear that some applicants are rote-learning different aspects but not able to apply the knowledge. Applicants must be prepared for changes in scenarios and for safe application of knowledge that may not be required in the linear fashion in which a topic was rote-learnt. Please remember that RCSI does not endorse or approve any training or preparation course for the test.
- Differences between countries: There will always be some differences between countries in regard to equipment and documentation. Images of equipment and documentation are clearly shown on the website – it would appear some applicants do not take care when studying the images of the equipment or practise filling in the documentation, both of which are crucial.
- Not heeding: In an effort to help the applicants, the possible scenario/s pertaining to an OSCE station are displayed outside the station. However, it would appear some applicants do not take sufficient care in reading these. On the day of the OSCEs we advise applicants to avoid getting distracted.
In conclusion, the majority of applicants prepare well, are able to apply knowledge in a safe way and give full care and attention throughout the test. However, the above observations may assist others.