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'I feel so nervous every time I do an OSCE'

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As a student nurse it is expected that our practical skills are monitored throughout the course.

This is achieved mainly while on placement with our practice document. However in university it’s also assessed using the objective structured clinical examination (OCSE).   

As a student nurse we are taught that we must know the rationale behind all that we do. Understand our practice whilst keeping up to date with new practices. By analysing that practice we are able to understand the theory behind it. I have completed two OCSE to date - hand washing and drug administration.

You may be thinking hand washing and drug administration? We do this every day whilst on practice. This is exactly the point!  We may become relaxed in our practices which the OSCE will definitely highlight to the student to then improve their practice.

How I prepare for the OSCE in practice?

I break it down into elements so that it’s easier to remember. I write prompt cards, I even record my notes onto a dictaphone application on my phone so I can listen to it repeatedly anywhere rather than getting my notes out. I never leave things to the last minute.

However, nothing ever prepares me for the nerves that I feel when doing an OSCE.

Even when the OSCE has been summative or formative I still feel the same.

The important thing is to stay focused; try not to rush what you are doing, think before your next action. Most importantly if you know you have made a mistake speak up, say where you have gone wrong and how you would put it right. After all safe practice is essential in nursing.

The NMC (2008) states that as a nurse we must manage risk and provide a high standard of practice at all times. We are accountable for our actions therefore we must always know why we are doing what we are doing.

And if you are not successful in your OSCE, learn from your mistakes, look at the feedback you are given and reflect on what needs to be addressed. You can try again and you will get it right.

Nicola Pountney is a second year student studying adult nursing at Wolverhampton University.

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