NMC Test of Competence

  • Support

    It is essential that candidates prepare for the test of competence and we recommend at least 14 days preparation time from booking to test date to sufficiently prepare yourself. The test blue print on the NMC’s web site offers some useful links to online resources which may be helpful.  On successful application and fee payment to Oxford Brookes University you will receive access to additional resources relevant to the test, i.e. manuals, videos and recommended reading.

    How to Prepare for your OSCE

    On your right you will see a range of downloads which will aid and support your OSCE preparation. The downloads that will support your preparation are: How to prepare for the OSCE and the Taking your OSCE, Candidate handbook . We highly recommend you take the time to read these.

    Assessment criteria

    The OSCE is made up of six stations, each lasting between 8-15 minutes with additional induction time. Four stations will be scenario based and relate to the holistic patient centred Assessment, Planning, Implementation and Evaluation stages of nursing and midwifery care. Two stations will be testing practical clinical skills. Please remember you will have done these nursing or midwifery competencies many times before. Make sure that you read the station instructions carefully. Do not be afraid to look at them again if you are unsure. You will not be penalised for this.

    Typical skills which may be tested either on their own or within a nursing/midwifery scenario include:

    • Vital signs
    • Calculating drug dosages
    • Intramuscular and subcutaneous injections
    • In-hospital resuscitation (without defibrillation)
    • Safe disposal of sharps
    • Medication administration
    • Peak flows
    • Wound care
    • All aspects of urinary catheterisation and care
    • Hand hygiene
    • Palpation (midwifery)
    • Auscultation of foetal heart (midwifery)
    • New born check (midwifery)

    Communication skills

    Communication is central to nursing and midwifery practice and will always be assessed during the OSCE’s.

    We assess the full range of communication skills (verbal, nonverbal and written) by observing the interaction between the candidate and a simulated patient (this may be an actor or a nursing manikin) and also by assessing your nursing or midwifery documentation.

    The examiner will assess your approach to the simulated patient all through the examination, and they will award marks for communication skills such as:

    • Clearly explaining care, diagnosis, investigations and or treatments.
    • Involving the patient in decision-making
    • Communicating with relatives and health care professionals
    • Obtaining informed consent
    • Active listening
    • Dealing appropriately with an anxious patient or relatives
    • Giving clear instructions on discharge
    • Giving advice on lifestyle, health promotion or risk factors.
    • Demonstrating compassion and care during communication
    • Clear documentation which meets current NMC guidelines
    • Professional behaviour

    You should speak to the simulated patient as you would any patient are meeting for the first time. If you are being assessed using a nursing manikin please remember to verbalises you actions and reasons for actions in the same way you would with a real patient.

    Approach to the patient

    • Introduce yourself and explain or clarify the purpose of the nursing or midwifery encounter.
    • Check what the patient wants you to call them
    • Be polite, respectful, non-judgemental and maintain the patient’s dignity
    • Be empathic and acknowledge the patient’s emotions or concerns and show sensitivity to any discomfort
    • Be sensitive to personal space – sit at an appropriate distance from the actor and be aware of their body language.  If you move too close and the role player moves back, you are too close
    • Treat a nursing manikin as you would a real patient.

    Explaining and advising

    • Establish what the patient already knows and or wants to know
    • Explain clearly what you are going to do and why, so the patient can understand
    • Remember to always check if the patient has any questions
    • Offer appropriate reassurance
    • Do not alarm the patient but you must be able to explain the need for urgent action if it is required.
    • Always check the patient has understood
    • Do not routinely over-simplify names for parts of the body. It is reasonable to expect most people will know common body name such as ‘bladder’, ‘ovary’, ‘womb’ and ‘vein’.  If you doubt a patient’s understanding, check and alter your approach to meet the patient’s individual needs. This is an important skill.
    • Treat a nursing manikin as you would a real patient

    Involving patient in management

    • Respect patient autonomy and help the patient to make a decision based on available information and advice. This includes competent explaining skills as above
    • Explain information and its implications so the patient can make an informed choice about any nursing or midwifery actions.
    • Check the patient’s understanding and feelings about the proposed nursing or midwifery interventions. They may not always agree with your proposed plan of care.
    • Treat a nursing manikin as you would a real patient

    Nursing or Midwifery Assessment

    You should be able to undertake an accurate nursing or midwifery assessment and make a reasoned plan of care if required. You should be able to:

    • Assess the patient’s nursing or midwifery problems accurately.
    • Listen attentively to the patient’s problems and concerns
    • Use clear language and question at a comfortable pace
    • Clarify and check information and summarise understanding
    • Be able to plan holistic safe and effective care based on your nursing or midwifery assessment and best practice.

    Reading Lists

    Download the reading lists here.