Virtual objective structured clinical examination for family nurse practitioner students using a Zoom platform in the time of COVID-19

Tracie Walker Kirkland, Michelle Zappas, Alan Liu, Susan E. Hueck, Jo Fava Hochuli, Win May


Objective: In response to school shut downs amid the COVID-19 pandemic, nurse educators from the University of Southern California implemented a virtual objective structured clinical examination (OSCE) using standardized patients (SPs) to assess family nurse practitioner (FNP) students’ clinical and communication skills as an alternative to the traditional in-person OSCE format. The intent of this paper is to share the nurse educators’ experiences with the transitional process and students’ feedback about their virtual OSCE experiences.

Methods: Students (N = 36) enrolled in a childbearing/childrearing clinical course participated in the virtual OSCE using Zoom. The experience included briefing and debriefing sessions. Students were evaluated for their communication and clinical decision making skills based on their assessment of two adolescent patients: one acute with behavioral problems presenting for a checkup and one with headache.

Results: All students who participated in the virtual OSCE experience demonstrated appropriate clinical and communication skills. Students perceived the virtual OSCE as a realistic model for telehealth but missed social interaction with faculty and peers and found their inability to conduct physical exam maneuvers challenging. The majority (79.3%) preferred interacting with patients face-to-face.

Conclusions: Virtual OSCEs used as low-stakes formative assessments provide FNP students with effective and valuable learning experiences. Transitioning from in-person to virtual OSCEs using Zoom is feasible but requires extensive collaboration between nursing educators and those with access to simulation facilities, such as faculty from schools of medicine. Findings from this experience will serve as a guide for deliberate process improvements for future iterations.

Full Text:



Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

ISSN 1925-4040 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4059 (Online)

Copyright © Sciedu Press 
To make sure that you can receive messages from us, please add the '' domain to your e-mail 'safe list'. If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox', check your 'bulk mail' or 'junk mail' folders.