Using an Objective Structured Clinical Examination for Bachelor of Midwifery students’ preparation for practice
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Background: Contemporary midwifery practice needs a rigorous and standardised assessment of practical skills, and knowledge to ensure that safety is maintained for both women and neonates before, during and after childbirth. Aim: To evaluate the use of Best Practice Guidelines (BPG) for Objective Structured Clinical Examinations (OSCE) as a standardised tool to develop clinical competence of Bachelor of Midwifery students. Method: A pragmatic mixed method approach with surveys, focus groups and interviews was used to evaluate the OSCEs for first year students. Quantitative and qualitative data were combined to understand student and academic perceptions of students’ confidence for clinical practice following the OSCE. Findings: Thirty-four students responded to surveys (response rate 94%); and 13 participated in focus groups. Two academic lecturers participated in an interview (100%). Two main themes emerged (1) the OSCEs improved student confidence (2) the OSCEs were relevant and prepared students for practice. Most students indicated that they practised for the OSCE using an integrated approach (70%), and that this assisted them in their approach to the assessment of the neonate or post-partum mother. Conclusion: The use of BPGs to ensure that OSCEs focus on important aspects of knowledge and practice helped students to learn and to perform well. Students’ confidence in their ability for the imminent professional experience placement was high. OSCEs designed with the BPGs should be implemented broadly across midwifery education to enhance students’ competence and provide rigorous meaningful assessment.
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