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Clinical Examination among Medical Students: Assessment and Comparison of the Strengths and Weaknesses of Objective Structured Clinical Examination and Conventional Examination.

Background: Traditional clinical examination is perceived to be biased and to overcome this, objective structured clinical examination (OSCE) was introduced.

Aims: The aim was to assess the students' exposure and perception of OSCE as well as its strengths and weaknesses in comparison to conventional clinical examination.

Subjects and Methods: A cross-sectional study of students who had surgical OSCE was conducted from July 2018 to October 2018 in Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. Using a structured questionnaire, exposure and perception of OSCE as well its strength and weaknesses in comparison to the conventional clinical examination were assessed with dichotomous questions and a 5-point Likert scale. Data were analyzed with SPSS Version 20.

Results: One hundred and thirty-four students responded, mean aged 24.1 ± 4.3 years, with a male-to-female ratio of 2.5:1. Although 64.7% of them strongly agreed that OSCE is the standard mode of examination, only 36.1% strongly agreed that it was easier to pass. More than half of the students perceived that the content of the OSCE was appropriate, wide-scoped, unbiased, and brought out specific areas of weakness. Some students (38.1%), however, felt that there was a need for improvement in the OSCE process, especially in time allocation, but most of them (89.5%) prefer it and agree that it was superior to conventional clinical examination.

Conclusions: The perception of the process and structure of OSCE among the medical students was good. Compared to conventional clinical examination, students found OSCE was easier and fairer, had a better examination of structure and level of coordination, and induced lesser anxiety and fatigue. However, the entire process of OSCE can be improved.

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