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clinical nurse specialist, coaching, competency, education, objective structured clinical examination (OSCE)



  1. Cuevas, Heather E. PhD, RN, ACNS-BC
  2. Timmerman, Gayle M. PhD, RN, CNS, FAAN


Purpose: Helping patients maximize their potential using expert coaching to facilitate lifestyle change is an important practice area for clinical nurse specialists (CNSs). The purpose is to determine the usefulness of objective structured clinical examinations (OSCEs) for evaluating CNS students' coaching competencies in the context of facilitating lifestyle change.


Description of the Project: Despite the use of OSCEs to assess competencies in clinical skills (eg, performance of procedures, decision making), its potential for evaluating coaching competencies for lifestyle change has not been demonstrated. We developed 4 OSCEs dealing with coaching patients in exercise, weight loss, stress reduction, or nonpharmacologic management of hyperlipidemia. Evaluation criteria included (1) approach to the patient, (2) information gathering, (3) motivational interviewing, and (4) management (medical and behavioral strategies).


Outcome: Student performance ranged from highly organized with proficient coaching skills to disorganized and focused solely on clinical management and prescriptive communication. Student responses were positive.


Conclusion: Objective structured clinical examinations were highly useful for evaluating CNS students' coaching competencies for lifestyle change. Using OSCEs early in the semester to provide students feedback on their performance and again at the end to determine improvement optimizes use of this teaching strategy.