Objectives: The primary aim of the study was to pilot the Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) as a method of evaluating the clinical competency of pre-registration pharmacists trained in Brisbane and nearby hospitals. A secondary aim was to demonstrate that this model of assessment is transferable when used to evaluate pre-registration pharmacists from the UK.
Method: A 15-workstation OSCE was adapted from an examination used by the South Thames Clinical Pharmacy Network in the UK. The workstations were reviewed and updated to ensure their appropriateness to clinical pharmacy practice in Australia by a group of practising pharmacists and academics. The OSCE was first completed by pre-registration pharmacists from Brisbane and nearby hospitals in October 1998 (QLD98) and then in November 1999 (QLD99). A sample of pre-registration students from the UK who completed the same OSCE in 1998 (UK98) was used as the comparator group.
Results: The OSCEs were completed by 10 students in 1998 (QLD98) and 13 in 1999 (QLD99). These results were compared with 52 students who completed the OSCEs in the UK in 1998 (UK98). In general, the students performed well in the 'medication focused' activities such as counselling, calculations and chart review. However, they were less successful in more holistic tasks such as drug history taking, information retrieval from medical notes and interpretive calculations.
Conclusion: Having successfully piloted the OSCE model it was determined that the method is feasible to administer when students can be brought to an assessment centre. We recommend that the OSCE be considered a key component of assessing clinical competency as part of the registration requirements for pre-registration pharmacists in Australia.