Development of an Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) to assess formulation and extemporaneous dispensing skills in MPharm undergraduates


  • Fiona Hughes School of Pharmacy, Queen’s University Belfast
  • Johanne Barry School of Pharmacy, Queen’s University Belfast
  • Luc Belaid School of Pharmacy, Queen’s University Belfast
  • Corona Cassidy School of Pharmacy, Queen’s University Belfast
  • Lezley-Anne Hanna School of Pharmacy, Queen’s University Belfast
  • Paul McCague School of Pharmacy, Queen’s University Belfast
  • Helen McPhillips School of Pharmacy, Queen’s University Belfast
  • Anne Overell School of Pharmacy, Queen’s University Belfast
  • Carole Parsons School of Pharmacy, Queen’s University Belfast
  • Ryan F Donnelly School of Pharmacy, Queen’s University Belfast


OSCE, Undergraduate, Assessment, Pharmacy, Chemistry, Formulation


Background: The use of Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) in Pharmacy has been explored; however this is the first attempt in Queen’s University School of Pharmacy, Belfast to assess students via this method in a module where chemistry is the main discipline.

Aims: To devise an OSCE to assess undergraduate ability to check extemporaneously dispensed products for clinical and formulation errors. This activity also aims to consider whether it is a viable method of assessment in such a science-based class, from a staff and student perspective.

Method: Students rotated around a number of stations, performing a check of the product, corresponding prescription and formulation record sheet detailing the theory behind the formulation. They were assessed on their ability to spot intentional mistakes at each one.

Results: Of the 79 students questioned, 95% indicated that OSCE made them aware of the importance of the clinical check carried out by the pharmacist. Nearly all of the undergraduates (72 out of 79) felt that OSCE made them aware of the type of mistakes that students make in class. Most (5 out of 7) of the academic team members strongly agreed that it made students aware of ‘point of dispensing’ checks carried out by pharmacists, in addition to helping them to prepare for their exam.

Conclusion: OSCE assesses both scientific and formulation skills, and has increased the diversity of assessment of this module, bringing with it many additional benefits for the undergraduates since it measures their ability to exercise professional judgement in a time- constrained environment and, in this way, mirrors the conditions many pharmacists work within. 


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Research Article