Seven years, seven OSCEs

No “seven-year itch” for the Objective Structured Clinical Evaluations (OSCEs), only smooth sailing. Since it was first designed and implemented at Iowa in 2017, the goals of the OSCE have been the same. Two sets of half-day assessments of incoming interns allow residency program leadership the opportunity to establish a baseline of their skill levels at specific tasks before they begin working on the wards and clinics of University of Iowa Health Care. This information guides both group and individualized instruction for the interns’ first couple months. The OSCE also allows each intern to demonstrate their skills, but it also gives them confidence that they are prepared to take on this new challenge as brand-new physicians and that their program’s leadership is there to support them.

After weathering years of pandemic restrictions and then making some of those adaptations, like the incorporation of Zoom, permanent parts of the day’s structure, the program’s designers, Education Development Director Jane Rowat, MS, and Vice Chair for Education Manish Suneja, MD, spent more time this year on expanding an already successful formula to additional departments within the Carver College of Medicine. Residents in the Department of Family Medicine have been a part of the OSCE day for years, but now a second day of OSCEs has also been added, with interns from a number of other departments also being evaluated.

The recognition of the OSCE’s value to education is not limited to the college but is nationally known. Recently, the ACGME cited a paper published by Rowat, Suneja, and former Chief Resident Sheena CarlLee, MD, when the governing organization recommend that US residency programs adopt this evaluation tool.

Like every other year, the day began with instruction from Suneja and Rowat, while faculty and Chief Resident observers logged in and were assigned to their Zoom channels. Suneja reassured the interns that the OSCE is no exam, just a formative evaluation offering both learner and instructor an opportunity to shape the educational experience everyone wants.

Learners reviewed their assignments and then the groups divided up and took their positions outside each station. Over the course of a couple hours they worked through a variety of skills demonstrations, from taking a history to having difficult conversations.

As always, the OSCE was deepened by the talents of the simulated and standardized patients (SPs), many of whom have spent careers as medical educators and take their roles seriously. The 18 SPs and the four clinical simulation suites room proctors are managed by Amy Graham, the college’s Instruction Services Specialist.

Once through the stations and the observers recorded their assessments, further assessment was performed by the learners and the SPs. The feedback they provided was also reviewed by Suneja and Rowat as they begin to think about next year.

We asked a few of the participants this year if they would say a few words about their experience on camera. We are grateful to these and all the interns for tolerating our photographers and videographers documenting the day.

Thank you, especially, to all who participated as observers and organizers to make this critical first step in our interns’ experience at Iowa a success.

Station Observers
Lisa Antes
Taylor Becker, CR
Andy Bryant
Alex Garza, CR
Mackenzie Hines
Reed Johnson, CR
Carly Kuehn
Jane Rowat
Lee Sanders
Justin Smock
Matt Soltys
Jenny Strouse
Manish Suneja
Joe Szot
Sam Zetumer
Kathie Zhang, CR

Administrative Personnel
Cindy Batzkiel
Abbey Gilpin
Amy Graham
Denise Floerchinger
Stacy Sueppel

2 Responses

  1. […] Welcome to the new academic year! It is an excellent time to set new intentions and goals for success, to build new habits, and to pursue new and better ways of fulfilling our department’s missions. What I continue to find amazing is that given the right conditions, good questions can foster whole new programs. With time and support, feedback, and the guidance of experience, answering that simple question produces a good idea, which can take root and bloom very quickly. One such transformative idea I believe we should talk about more than just once every year is what Dr. Manish Suneja and Jane Rowat built with the Objective Structured Clinical Evaluation (OSCE). At its core, the OSCE started with a good question: Wouldn’t it be great if we had a snapshot of our first-year interns’ skills before they started? We could know that an incoming class or a couple of individuals needed a little more coaching on, say, taking a history or that everyone already has a strong grasp on obtaining informed consent. How much time could be saved, how much more personalized could instruction get? Over the last seven years, our residency program has organized a small army of observers, simulated patients, and interns through a well-oiled battery of skills assessments. They have done this so well that now multiple departments within the college, and even the ACGME itself, agrees that this is something every program should do with their interns. And they rely on our guidance to implement it. It has been instructive and inspiring to watch every year, and I hope that this year’s participants have had a similar reaction. […]

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