Med Educ. 2023 Apr 20. doi: 10.1111/medu.15089. Online ahead of print.
INTRODUCTION: The Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) has been widely used in health professions education since the 1970s. The global disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic restricted in-person assessments and medical educators globally sought alternative means to assess and certify students and trainees to meet the acute demand for health-care workers. One such solution was through virtual OSCE (vOSCE), which modified traditional in-person OSCE using videoconference platforms. This meta-ethnography sought to synthesise qualitative literature on candidates' and assessors' experiences of vOSCE to evaluate whether it may have a role in future assessment practices.
METHODS: In June 2022, we systematically searched PsycINFO, Medline and ERIC for peer-reviewed qualitative and mixed-methods articles that described candidates' and assessors' experiences of virtual OSCE in health professions education. Of 1069 articles identified, 17 were synthesised using meta-ethnography.
RESULTS: The final synthesis represented 1190 candidates and assessors from faculties of medicine, dentistry, nursing, pharmacy and osteopathy. We developed our findings into four key concepts. 'Strengthening confidence in a virtual environment' highlighted attempts to overcome and mitigate concerns associated with transitioning from in-person to virtual assessment. 'Understanding the scope of use as an assessment' reflected on the suitability of vOSCE in assessing various skills. 'Refining operational processes' emphasised the technical challenges of implementing vOSCE and impacts on accessibility and resources. 'Envisioning its future role' considered the applicability of vOSCE in the climate of rapid development in telehealth.
CONCLUSION: This meta-ethnography highlighted that although vOSCE was primarily considered a temporary and crisis response, candidates and assessors recognised positive, as well as negative, consequences of the transition towards them. Moving forward, medical education policymakers should carefully consider the extent to which elements of vOSCE could be incorporated into assessment systems, particularly in light of the rise of telehealth in clinical practice.