Open Access Research article

Power of the policy: how the announcement of high-stakes clinical examination altered OSCE implementation at institutional level

Chi-Wei Lin12, Tsuen-Chiuan Tsai34*, Cheuk-Kwan Sun1, Der-Fang Chen56 and Keh-Min Liu7

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Medical Education, E-Da hospital, I-Shou University, No.1, Yida Road, Yanchao Dist, Kaohsiung City, 82445, Taiwan

2 Graduate Institute of Adult Education, National Kaohsiung Normal University, No.116, Heping 1st Rd., Lingya Dist, Kaohsiung City, 80201, Taiwan

3 Department of Pediatrics, E-Da hospital, No.1, Yida Road, Yanchao Dist, Kaohsiung City 82445, Taiwan

4 Department of Chinese Medicine, I-Shou University, No.1, Yida Road, Yanchao Dist, Kaohsiung City 82445, Taiwan

5 Department of Surgery, Cathay General Hospital, No.280 Renai Rd. Sec.4, Taipei City, Taiwan

6 Fu-Jen Catholic University College of Medicine, No.510, Zhongzheng Rd., Xinzhuang Dist, New Taipei City, Taiwan

7 Department of Anatomy, College of Medicine, Kaohsiung Medical University, No. 100, Shih-Chuan 1st Road, Kaohsiung City, 80708, Taiwan

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BMC Medical Education 2013, 13:8  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-13-8

Published: 24 January 2013



The Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) has been widely applied as a high-stakes examination for assessing physicians’ clinical competency. In 1992, OSCE was first introduced in Taiwan, and the authorities announced that passing the OSCE would be a prerequisite for step-2 medical licensure examination in 2013. This study aimed to investigate the impacts of the announced national OSCE policy on implementation of OSCE at the institutional level. Further, the readiness and the recognition of barriers toward a high-stakes examination were explored.


In 2007 and 2010, the year before and after the announcement of high-stakes OSCE policy in 2008, respectively, questionnaires on the status of OSCE implementation were distributed to all hospitals with active OSCE programs in Taiwan. Information on OSCE facilities, equipment, station length, number of administrations per year, and the recognition of barriers to the success of implementing an OSCE were collected. The missing data were completed by telephone interviews. The OSCE format, administration, and facilities before and after the announcement of the nationwide OSCE policy were compared.


The data were collected from 17 hospitals in 2007 and 21 in 2010. Comparing the OSCE formats between 2007 and 2010, the number of stations increased and the station length decreased. The designated space and the equipment for OSCE were also found to have been improved. As for the awareness of OSCE implementation barriers, the hospital representatives concerned mostly about the availability and quality of standardized patients in 2007, as well as space and facilities in 2010.


The results of this study underscored an overall increase in the number of OSCE hospitals and changes in facilities and formats. While recruitment and training of standardized patients were the major concerns before the official disclosure of the policy, space and facilities became the focus of attention after the announcement. The study results highlighted the influence of government policy on different aspects of OSCE implementation in Taiwanese training institutes that showed high level of support as reflected in the improved hardware and the change in OSCE format to serve the summative purpose.

OSCE; Assessment; Policy; High-stakes