Implementing the Objective Structured Clinical Examination in a Geriatrics Fellowship Program—A 3-Year Experience


Address correspondence to Thiago J. Avelino-Silva, Hospital das Clinicas da Faculdade de Medicina da Universidade de São Paulo, Avenida Dr. Eneas de Carvalho Aguiar 255, 8o Andar, Bloco 8—Núcleo de Apoio a Pesquisa e Ensino em Geriatria e Gerontologia/São Paulo (SP), Brazil. E-mail:


The Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) appears to be an effective alternative for assessing not only medical knowledge, but also clinical skills, including effective communication and physical examination skills. The purpose of the current study was to implement an OSCE model in a geriatrics fellowship program and to compare the instrument with traditional essay examination. Seventy first- and second-year geriatric fellows were initially submitted to a traditional essay examination and scored from 0 to 10 by a faculty member. The same fellows subsequently underwent an OSCE with eight 10-minute stations covering a wide range of essential aspects of geriatric knowledge. Each OSCE station had an examiner responsible for its evaluation according to a predefined checklist. Checklist items were classified for analysis purposes as clinical knowledge items (CKI) and communication skills items (CSI); fellow responses were scored from 0 to 10.Although essay examinations took from 30 to 45 minutes to complete, 180–200 minutes were required to evaluate fellows using the proposed OSCE method. Fellows scored an average of 6.2 ± 1.2 on the traditional essay examination and 6.6 ± 1.0 on the OSCE (< .001). Subanalyses of OSCE scores indicated that average performance on CKI was lower than the average on CSI (6.4 ± 1.1 vs. 8.4 ± 1.1; < .001). Fellow performance on the essay examination was similar to their performance on CKI (= .13). Second-year fellows performed better than first-year fellows on the essay examination (< .001) and CKI (= .05), but not on CSI (= .25).The OSCE was successfully implemented as an educational strategy during a geriatrics fellowship program. Combining different testing modalities may provide the best assessment of competence for various domains of knowledge, skills, and behavior.