gms | German Medical Science

Jahrestagung der Gesellschaft für Medizinische Ausbildung (GMA)

10.11. bis 12.11.2006, Köln

Concept and contents of an Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) for Clinical Pediatrics

Konzeption und Inhalte eines Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) im Fach Klinische Pädiatrie


Jahrestagung der Gesellschaft für Medizinische Ausbildung - GMA. Köln, 10.-12.11.2006. Düsseldorf, Köln: German Medical Science; 2006. Doc06gma147

The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:

Published: October 23, 2006

© 2006 Schlueter et al.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( You are free: to Share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work, provided the original author and source are credited.



For years, a controversy is going on, how to test performance in medical training. Traditional oral examinations overstress the importance of theoretical knowledge and neglect other essential competences of a "good physician", e.g. social and communicative competences. A way out of these difficulties was directed by Ronald Harden, who in 1975 for the first time presented the format of "objective structured clinical examination" (OSCE).

OSCE is a standardized, oral-practical format of examination, based on check lists. Apart from the product "knowledge", it allows to assess processes like a sequence of actions or strategies of problem solving. An OSCE consists of a number of stations, where the candidates are confronted with near-to-reality clinical situations. The active rôle of a responsible physician is assigned to the candidates. Examiners are in the rôle of observers, who observe the interaction of the simulation patients and the candidates.

Since 1997, at the Pediatric Chair of the Private University of Witten/Herdecke an OSCE has been elaborated and has been used as a certificate examination at the end of the 4-weeks practical course in Clinical Pediatrics. OSCE stations were realized in various forms:

theory station (e.g. neonatal quiz);
history station (e.g. emergency room);
physical examination station (e.g. basic cardiologic examination);
clinical station (e.g. child with thrombocytopenia).

OSCE provides the methodological equipment for standardized testing of performance, concerning theoretical knowledge of students as well as their clinical-practical capacities and their social and communicative competences.


Harden RM, Stevenson M, Downie WW, Wilson GM. Assessment of clinical competence using objective structured clinical examination. BMJ. 1975;1(5955):447-451.