Medical Student Competence in Ophthalmology Assessed Using the Objective Standardized Clinical Examination


Nikhil S. Patil, Manpartap Bal and Yasser Khan*

Background: Medical school education in ophthalmology is lacking and requires more attention. In this study, we assessed medical student competency in ophthalmology using an ophthalmology station in an Objective Standardized Clinical Examination (OSCE).

Materials and Methods: 100 pre-clerkship medical students and 98 clerkship medical students were included in this study. The OSCE station consisted of a common ocular complaint-blurry vision with decreased visual acuity-and students were asked to take an appropriate history, provide 2-3 differential diagnoses to explain the symptoms, and perform a basic ophthalmic examination.

Results: Generally, clerks performed better than pre-clerks in the history taking (p<0.01) and the ophthalmic examination (p<0.05) sections, with few specific exceptions. For the history-taking section, more pre-clerkship students asked about patient age and past medical history (p<0.00001) and for the ophthalmic examination, more pre-clerkship students performed the anterior segment examination (p<0.01). Interestingly, more pre-clerkship students were also able to provide two to three differential diagnoses (p<0.05), specifically, diabetic retinopathy (p<0.00001) and hypertensive retinopathy (p<0.00001).

Conclusion(s): The performance of both groups was generally satisfactory; however, many students in both groups had scores that were unsatisfactory. Notably, preclerks also outperformed clerks in certain areas which emphasize the importance of revisiting ophthalmology content through clerkship. Awareness of such knowledge can allow medical educators to incorporate focused programs into the curriculum.