March 29, 2018

ABA Launches OSCE for Certification

Raleigh, N.C. (March 29, 2018)  The American Board of Anesthesiology (ABA) recently launched a new Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) component to its primary certification process, making it the first medical specialty certifying board to do so. The OSCE, which consists of short simulated clinical situations, is now part of the APPLIED Examination, the final of three examinations in the primary certification process.

The OSCE assesses two domains important to patient care – communication and professionalism, and technical skills. One hundred and thirty-seven candidates took the OSCE during the first 2018 APPLIED Exam week, March 5–9, and a total of 1,430 are expected to take it in 2018.

“These are critically important skills that all physicians should master, but that are difficult to assess with the traditional examinations. With the OSCE, candidates can show rather than tell us how they would manage situations that would draw on these skills,” said Deborah J. Culley, M.D., secretary of the Board. “For example, can candidates clearly and compassionately explain why a patient suffered an unexpected complication or discuss how to deal with difficult end-of-life situations? Physicians must develop not only the necessary knowledge and technical skills, but also the ability to communicate effectively with their patients and colleagues.”

The OSCE launch completes the rollout of an innovative new examination system that certifies anesthesiologists.  This system includes two written exams – the BASIC and ADVANCED Examinations – and the APPLIED Exam, which now includes both the OSCE and a standardized oral examination that uses case-based discussions.

This new system is designed to engage residents in more sustained studying over the course of their training, to align with the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education’s move toward competency-based training and advancement, and to fully ascertain clinical judgment and communication skills. We built our Raleigh-based Assessment Center as part of the new system to provide a more authentic and standardized experience for our candidates.

Our Board of Directors approved adding the OSCE component in 2012 with the goal of assessing a higher level of competency based on Miller’s Pyramid of Assessment, a commonly used model for assessing medical competence. We will research the OSCE results to determine if the exam helps us identify new information about the aptitude of our candidates.

“The launch of the OSCE Examination is the culmination of six years of intense effort by many dedicated individuals,” said David O. Warner, M.D., Board director and chair of the OSCE Committee. “Since no other U.S. medical specialty board uses this approach in their certification processes, we plan to carefully evaluate and report our experience so that others may benefit. We also hope that the results will provide guidance for training programs about the skills candidates are mastering and where their skills could use refining.”

The OSCE consists of a seven-station circuit featuring various clinical scenarios listed in the OSCE Content Outline. The outline includes six communication and professionalism skills and three technical skills. Each OSCE encounter is eight minutes long with four minutes between stations to review the next scenario.

An OSCE Committee of 26 clinically active anesthesiologists developed the scenarios. These scenarios underwent significant pilot testing in 2016 and 2017, including a full-scale administration with examiners, standardized patients and early career diplomates serving as candidates.

Physicians who graduated from residency on or after Oct. 1, 2016, will take the oral and OSCE components of the exam. Both components are taken on the same day in our Assessment Center. Candidates must pass both to earn board certification.

While the OSCE development required significant investment, we have not raised candidate fees with the launch of this new component. We have not raised fees since 2012 and have committed to not doing so through the end of this decade.

ABA Media Contact
Michelle Taylor
Director of Marketing and Communications

About the American Board of Anesthesiology® 
Our mission is to advance the highest standards of the practice of anesthesiology. As the certifying body for anesthesiologists since 1938, we partner with physicians to elevate practice standards and foster exceptional patient care. We administer primary and subspecialty certification exams as well as the Maintenance of Certification in Anesthesiology™ (MOCA®) program, which is designed to promote lifelong learning, a commitment to quality clinical outcomes and patient safety. Based in Raleigh, N.C., we are a nonprofit organization and a Member Board of the American Board of Medical Subspecialties (ABMS).