Qatar University’s College of Pharmacy (QU-CPH) successfully conducted its first online Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) utilising an online distance education platform due to the precautionary measures against the novel coronavirus (Covid-19).
The College of Pharmacy implemented the “Telehealth” concept, with the participation of 22 final year BSc pharmacy students and 11 faculty members.
The exam assessed the clinical skills of prospective pharmacists and is currently the ‘exit from degree’ assessment used in pharmacy programmes in many countries around the world.
Usually, simulated patients (SPs) play the role of real-life patients in the OSCE.
However, the structure and the regular flow of the OSCE were changed where faculty members played the SP role while having a video conference with each student, who, in turn, role-played the pharmacist.
The exam consisted of four different case-scenarios over two days that simulate the real work of a pharmacist in community, hospital and primary care settings.
Students were graded based on their ability to demonstrate professional pharmacy practice skills as part of their final cumulative assessment prior to graduation.
In addition, students’ grades were cross-assessed by two faculty members to ensure fair evaluation of students and inter-rater reliability.
Some of the important skills assessed as part of this exam included: Promotion of public health awareness, demonstration of managerial leadership skills, maintaining the code of ethics while dealing with difficult patients, communication and collaboration with other healthcare team members to provide optimal care to hospitalised patients, and counselling patients about their medications with trusted information taking into account their specific characteristics while dispensing the medication safely.
Dr Maguy El Haj, CPH associate professor and head of Clinical Pharmacy and Practice Department, said: “Due to Covid-19 pandemic, health consultations in Qatar and in the world started to be delivered through telehealth. It was amazing to have OSCE conducted virtually with our final year pharmacy students.”
Dr Ziad Nasr, CPH clinical assistant professor and course coordinator said: “It was quite challenging to change the whole format of the OSCE and execute it online in such a short period of time given the uncertain circumstances we are facing. But when there is a will, there is a way; and with the support of faculty members along with the dedication and perseverance of our final year students, we made it happen successfully.”