Clinical Exam Helps Students Prepare For OSCE And USMLE

Traditionally, medical education has been essentially an apprenticeship, with trainees largely learning by doing. More and more however, medical programs are utilizing simulation environments to teach students in safe environments. For the physical exam, that is the OSCE – objective structured clinical exam. Intended to teach students exam skills in a “low-pressure environment,” for many, these experiences have actually turned into another high-pressure exam.

Clinical Exam is designed to test and improve the practical clinical skills of medical students with impending exams. Unlike other applications focused on clinical skills, such as Physical Exam Essentials, this application is purely dedicated to helping students pass their OSCEs. Clinical Exam provides clinical cases and grading schemes to allow you to investigate many different examination scenarios. Read on to find out how well it accomplishes this task.

The layout of the application is straightforward and simple. It is intended to be used in the context of a practical examination scenario with an “examiner”, a “patient” and a “candidate”.  The application contains a number of clinical cases, which students can expect to be tested on at various stages throughout medical school.

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After a specific examination has been selected, an appropriate mark scheme is revealed alongside a countdown timer. Subsequently, the “examiner” starts the countdown timer and observes the student throughout the examination, ticking boxes as they complete required tasks. Awarding a mark by the “examiner” sometimes reveals further information with regard to the task; the “candidate” is allowed to comment on the further information.

The countdown timer can be changed to reflect the time allowed at different OSCE stations. A one-minute alarm before the end of the examination alerts the “candidate” that they are running out of time. At the end of the examination, the candidate’s score is provided, thus allowing the candidate to compare his or her score with previous performances.

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Only a small selection of 11 cases is provided with the free application; the single in-application purchase of £3.99 provides a wide range of a further 80 cases. With regard to the purchased application, the selection of cases is good, as demonstrated by the screenshot above. Topics covered include cardiovascular, respiratory, abdominal, neurological, thyroid, breast and musculoskeletal. The clinical findings for each case help guide the “candidate” toward a specific condition. However, the patient history for each case could be more detailed as they are often somewhat vague. The lack of detail is also reflected in the mark schemes which often do not cover examinations to a high level of detail (see screenshots)

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One feature that would significantly improve the application is the ability to add notes to each exam. This would allow a “candidate” to record further information about the examination, thus allowing them to improve their skills and studies.

Likes:

  • Simple application that targets a singular function, which is well executed
  • Good range of cases with in-application purchase

Dislikes:

  • Lack of detail throughout the application, particularly with regards to patient history and clinical findings
  • Inability to add notes

Overall Rating:

  • This is a useful application which performs its singular function well and would be of use to students who are looking for a method to test their knowledge of clinical skills examinations.
  • Despite lacking details at times, the application will still help to improve the clinical skills of medical students.

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