The written and practical components of the examination were complementary and allowed for the proper evaluation of ability to practice the profession. The withdrawal of the practical component was the reason behind changing the examination’s written component so that it could be used on its own to assess candidates’ ability to practice nursing.
The examination is prepared on the basis of the entry-level clinical competency framework and consists of a sample of clinical situations that a nurse is likely to encounter when beginning to practice. It is not a theoretical examination, but an examination that assesses the candidates’ ability to integrate their knowledge, skills and behaviours to demonstrate clinical judgment and the capacity to take the right action in specific situations. The examination is focused on the clinical aspects of nursing, not management.
Withdrawing the examination’s practical component does not lower requirements for entering the profession. It is only a change in the examination format. The competency framework and the competencies assessed remain the same. The written examination assesses the most critical aspects to determine ability to practice the profession, such as making and justifying clinical decisions.
The relational and operational skills that were assessed in the OSCE are assessed during training and more specifically during clinical fieldwork, i.e. in a more favourable setting than a 10-minute station during an examination. The professional examination is centred on the critical aspects for determining ability to practice.
The new examination contains 40 to 44 clinical situations that are representative of the field of nursing practice, which is an increase compared to the previous examination’s written component. In the previous examination, the sample of clinical situations was distributed over two components, written and practical, and this distribution varied from one examination to another. The new examination has a sample of clinical situations allowing the OIIQ to assess the ability to practice nursing.
The evolving context of nursing led to major challenges in keeping the examination’s practical component; for example increasingly complex situations needed to be simulated. Given the size of the cohorts-nearly 4,000 people a year-a large number of circuits had to be set up and the necessary devices could not be used due to their limited availability (e.g. volumetric pump, restraints).