Effective 20 July 2020, Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) test centres have been reopened. Nurses and midwifery professionals who are trained outside the EEA are now able to complete their tests in a safe, socially distanced way. All 3 UK test centres, which were closed since March following the coronavirus pandemic, are now open.
All those candidates who had earlier joined NMC’s temporary register to support the UK’s response to Covid-19, will now be receiving priority booking and can undertake the OSCE.
What is the OSCE?
The objective structure clinical examination (OSCE) is a critical part of NMC’s test of competence (ToC), which is how they ensure that nurses, midwives and nursing associates who have been trained overseas possess the right knowledge and skills to practise in the UK.
Nurses and midwives who have obtained their primary qualifications outside the EEA must complete the two step testing process before they can apply for registration with the NMC. Eligible candidates will be asked to first sit the Computer-based test or the CBT. On passing this, they will then have to successfully complete the OSCE which can only be undertaken in the UK, in-person, at one of the 3 designated test centres.
Passing the OSCE ensures that professionals who join NMC’s permanent register meet their standards and can practise without any conditions or supervision that were earlier deemed necessary for temporary registration. While they await the test results, candidates may continue to stay on the temporary register and work, but will have to follow the pre-set conditions of practice. These conditions will be lifted upon receiving positive OSCE results and completing the registration formalities.
Safety Measures at Test Centres
It is important that people feel safe and supported when taking their OSCE test. Some of the safety measures that have been introduced at test centres include:
- Candidates will need to complete a new health declaration to confirm they are fit and well before attending the test
- Candidates are tested in a single bay with the same examiner throughout the OSCE test
- A one-way system is adopted to carefully manage the flow of staff and candidates, maintaining social distancing as required.
- A working group is established with the NMC and its partners to ensure test centre capacity and demand is planned and supported in the months ahead, so that testing can resume in a safe, socially distanced way.
Emma Broadbent, Director of Professional Regulation for the Nursing and Midwifery Council, professed her delight at being able to reopen of the OSCE test centres for overseas nursing and midwifery professionals wishing to join NMC’s permanent register. As she said, “Overseas nursing and midwifery professionals are a vital part of the UK’s health and care workforce and getting these test centres back up and running a key step on our journey to a new normal and is essential to ensuring highly skilled professionals can join our register in a timely way.”