The objective structured clinical examination (OSCE) has revolutionised the way that we examine undergraduates and postgraduates in medicine. It is now widely used in medical schools and since spring 2003 has been an integral part of the MRCPsych part I examination. This book will be of major relevance to all trainees and should go a long way to demystifying the OSCE for their trainers.
The OSCE is introduced in some detail and its advantages (the provision of a uniform examination that deals with specific issues) and disadvantages (the scenarios may not mimic real-life situations) are acknowledged. The development of specific OSCEs is discussed and vital tips are then given on how to pass and train for the examinations.
A large part of the book is dedicated to specific examples of OSCEs. Several (but unfortunately not all) sub-specialties of psychiatry are covered as is neurological examination and even feedback of neurological investigations. Not surprisingly this part of the book is quite repetitive but covers a wide range of different scenarios and will doubtless be of value to those preparing for their part I examination and those responsible for designing OSCEs. Each example starts with constructive instructions to candidates, discusses the key points that should be covered and then describes what the authors would consider to be a good approach. The scenarios are fair and cover issues that one would expect in the exam. Any candidate who approached their OSCE in the way suggested by the authors should enhance their chance of success.
The book also contains an interactive CD–ROM. I suspect this will be of most value to trainees revising for exams and would certainly provide some variety, which is usually helpful.
This book is a worthy addition to the College Seminars Series, covering a key topic that all psychiatrists need to be familiar with. The authors are to be congratulated on a book that is comprehensive without being overinclusive.
London: Gaskell, 2005, £20.00, 208 pp. ISBN: 1-904671-17-9