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Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) is a widely used method of assessing clinical competence in healthcare education. It involves a series of timed stations, where students are presented with simulated patient cases and required to demonstrate their ability to perform clinical tasks, such as taking a patient history, making a diagnosis, and providing patient education. OSCEs are particularly useful in assessing practical skills and evaluating the application of theoretical knowledge to clinical situations. In this article, we will discuss the steps involved in conducting an OSCE exam for PharmD students and provide examples of actor scenarios.

Steps in Conducting an OSCE Exam for PharmD Students

Define the learning objectives: The first step in developing an OSCE exam is to define the learning objectives that the exam is designed to assess. Learning objectives should be aligned with the course curriculum and the program's accreditation standards.

Develop stations: The next step is to develop stations that will test the students' abilities to meet the learning objectives. Stations should be designed to simulate real-life clinical situations and be relevant to the practice of pharmacy.

Recruit actors: Actors are an essential part of OSCE exams, as they play the role of patients and provide a realistic interaction with the student. Actors should be trained to play the role of the patient and provide feedback on the student's performance.

Train assessors: Assessors are responsible for evaluating the student's performance at each station. They should be trained on the assessment criteria and the use of the scorecard.

Conduct the exam: On the day of the exam, students rotate through each station, where they are presented with a simulated patient case and required to demonstrate their ability to perform clinical tasks. Actors and assessors provide feedback to the students after each station.

Evaluate the results: After the exam, the results should be evaluated to determine the student's performance and identify areas for improvement.

Developing actors scenarios for an OSCE PharmD examination can be a useful way to simulate real-life situations and challenge students' clinical decision-making and communication skills. Here is an example scenario:

Station: Patient Counseling - Smoking Cessation

Scenario: The student is asked to counsel a patient who has been smoking for 10 years and has tried unsuccessfully to quit in the past. The patient is skeptical about the effectiveness of smoking cessation products and expresses concerns about the cost and potential side effects. The actor will play the role of the patient.

Actor Instructions:

  • Play the role of a patient who is skeptical about the effectiveness of smoking cessation products.
  • Express concerns about the cost and potential side effects of smoking cessation products.
  • Ask the student questions about the effectiveness of the products and their personal experience with them.
  • Challenge the student to provide a clear and persuasive rationale for the use of smoking cessation products.
  • Respond to the student's counseling in a realistic and engaging manner.

Assessment Criteria:

  • Demonstrates knowledge of smoking cessation products (0-5)
  • Provides clear and persuasive rationale for the use of smoking cessation products (0-5)
  • Addresses patient concerns about the cost and potential side effects of smoking cessation products (0-5)
  • Demonstrates effective communication skills with the patient (0-5)
  • Score:
    0 = not demonstrated
    1 = below expectations
    2 = meets expectations
    3 = exceeds expectations
    4 = outstanding performance
    5 = exceptional performance

Assessor Instructions:

  • Observe the student's interaction with the actor and assess their performance using the assessment criteria.
  • Use the scorecard to record the student's score for each criterion.
  • Provide feedback to the student after the station is complete, highlighting strengths and areas for improvement.

This scenario can be modified or adapted to target different clinical skills and areas of knowledge, such as medication therapy management or patient education.


OSCE exams are a valuable tool for assessing clinical competence in PharmD students. By designing relevant stations and developing realistic actor scenarios, students can be evaluated on their ability to apply theoretical knowledge to clinical situations and provide patient-centered care. Conducting OSCE exams can also identify areas for improvement and provide feedback to students on their strengths and weaknesses. By following the steps outlined in this article, pharmacy educators can develop effective OSCE exams that align with learning objectives and accreditation standards. In addition, the use of actor scenarios can provide a realistic and engaging experience for students, allowing them to develop their clinical skills in a safe and supportive environment.

Overall, OSCE exams are an important component of PharmD education, and can help ensure that graduates are prepared to provide high-quality patient care in a variety of clinical settings. By continually refining and improving the OSCE exam process, educators can help to ensure that their students are well-prepared for the challenges of modern pharmacy practice.

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