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Dietetic students’ performance of activities in an objective structured clinical examination

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Abstract Background: 

Objective structured clinical examinations (OSCEs) have been used to assess the key clinical skills of many health professions; however, this form of assessment is not reported to have been used extensively for dietetic students. The present study explored which key dietetic skills could be assessed by an OSCE and which activity students performed best. Methods: 

An OSCE of six activities, two involving simulated patients, was developed to assess key dietetic clinical skills. Thirty-five level two dietetic students undertook the OSCE, which was marked using structured marking tools. A self-administered questionnaire was also used to obtain data concerning student’s opinion on the OSCE process and the time allowed for each activity. Results: 

Six activities were incorporated into the OSCE, involving communication, discriminatory and interpretation and food knowledge skills. The OSCE activity students performed least well involved knowledge of portion sizes and the carbohydrate content of specific foods. The activities that students performed best were the two activities in which mainly communication skills were assessed in simulated dietetic consultations using actors as standardised patients. Conclusions: 

A dietetic OSCE was generally positively accepted by the students and offers a very effect form of assessment of key dietetic skills. Students performed better at activities requiring communication skills than those requiring greater discriminatory and interpretation and food knowledge skills. Students’ food knowledge skills require reinforcing to ensure that they acquire the knowledge and skills that are unique to dietitians.
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Keywords: communication; dietetic education; food composition

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 June 2010

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