Assessing nursing students' basic communication and interviewing skills: the development and testing of a rating scale¶This study explores the communication skills of a group of nursing students who were required to interview a simulated client as part of their studies. In order to assess the students and to improve the process of learning discrete skills, an instrument was developed and tested as part of this process. The subjects were 212 nurses enrolled in a bachelor of nursing programme, in New South Wales, Australia, who were studying a problem-based learning package the focus of which was `alcohol early intervention'. The sub-groups within the sample included registered nurses, a significant percentage of whom had completed their basic nursing education in overseas countries. The Simulated Client Interview Rating Scale (SCIRS) was developed to assess basic humanistic communication skills as well as beginning motivational interviewing skills. The students were required to interview a simulated client and demonstrate competence in interviewing. This was assessed by the SCIRS which was completed by the students and the simulated clients. The instrument proved to be a reliable and valid means of assessing student interview technique as well as a flexible educational tool, while valuable insights into students' interviewing techniques were gained.