Important Information Regarding the OSCE/Orals Course


The Background

The OSCE/Orals Course is always over-subscribed as, in order to afford the candidates exposure to all facets of the course, it has to be limited to 48 places.

Many trainees, appreciating this, apply for a place on the course early;

Before they know the results of the MCQ/SBA Paper.
Before they have been granted the week of Study Leave.
Before deciding definitely that they will be sitting the examination.

For these reasons and for other less common but nevertheless valid reasons, there is always a number of cancellation or withdrawals as the course date approaches.

Such withdrawals in the past have caused the MSA much embarrassment.

In order to afford disappointed applicants the time and opportunity to apply elsewhere, once we had a full complement of applications for the 48 places, we would announce that the course was “closed”.

However, following that announcement, the withdrawals mentioned above would free-up places but, as we had no Waiting List and as no more applications would be coming in, we would be left with empty places on the course.

This meant that some of those on the course would return from the course reporting to colleagues and friends, particularly to those who had been told that the course was full, that there were empty places.

This would cause much upset and indignation together with criticism of the MSA on account of it seemingly poor administration.

The worst example was an OSCE/Orals Course some time ago which, having been posted as being ‘full’ and after many applications had been turned away, started with only 37 candidates.

The Remedy

New Application Process in Place:

Appreciating that this Course is always heavily oversubscribed and that many Trainees sit the MCQ/SBA Examination just before….

A Date will be set for the Opening of Applications and posted on our ‘Future Courses’ page and our Facebook Page.

Once Applications have opened, Trainees are asked to apply as soon as they intend to attend the OSCE/Orals Course. Please appreciate that you are better doing this sooner than later to avoid disappointment.
Your receipt of application will be acknowledged and you will be placed on the ‘Application List’ for this Course. This will be irrespective of whether you already have the MCQ/SBA Exam pocketed or not. All applications will be placed on this List in order when their completed application form enters the inbox.

Following the results of the MCQ/SBA Examination, which come out on a Friday, everyone on the Application List will be asked to let us know by the Monday if they wish to remain on the Application List or not. If you do not let us know by the deadline, you will be removed from the List.
On the Tuesday, you will then be advised as to whether your name is on either the provisional Course List or the provisional Waiting List.

Those on the Course List will then be asked to ‘Secure their Place’ by Completing a Form and sending it back to us with payment confirming that:
– You are sitting & booked onto the Imminent OSCE/Viva Examination
– You have the appropriate Leave Booked
– You accept your place on the Course List and have made payment of your Course Fee
– You agree that there will be no refund should you withdraw from the course and we are unable to fill the vacated place with an applicant from the Waiting List.

You will be given a deadline to get this back to us. This should then allow us to give the Waiting List a better idea of where they stand sooner rather than later.

Observer Places
It is always possible that, in spite of every endeavour to avoid doing so, we end up with a small number of empty places on the Opening Day of the course.
Usually this is because of illness, a family commitment or even an early, unexpected delivery of a baby.

To accommodate such late cancellations, we always invite the first four on the residual Waiting List to be Observers.

Observers come to the course understanding that, should they not get a place on the Opening Day, they may remain on the course Free of Charge and are thus entitled to a full refund of the course fee.

If, on the other hand, places become available due to any Failure to Attend on the Opening Day, again in appointed order, the Observers are asked to substitute from the start, in which case they will be subjected to the regular course fee.

Any Observer who is offered a place in these circumstances but who refuses the place will be asked to leave the course and will not be entitled to any refund of the Course Fee.
If an Observer is given their Observer Place and fails to turn up on any of the days of the Course, they will also not be entitled to any refund of the Course Fee.

The whole purpose of the Observer role is to ensure that, at least at the start, there is a full complement of forty eight candidates. The occasional Observer wants to remain an Observer and thus attend the course free of charge. We cannot countenance that option.

Observers are exposed to all that the course has to offer, the only difference being that they do not take part in the formal Viva and OSCE sessions although they have every opportunity to ‘observe’ such sessions and to ‘play’ with the fodder used for some of the sessions.

Further, if any of the candidates for whatever reason retire during the week of the course, in appointed order the Observers, are invited to substitute, still without charge.

To date, no Observer has gone home disappointed and the Pass Rate among our Observers over the years has certainly been no worse than that of the formal candidates.

I regret what must seem a rather complicated process but no one has come up with an effective and reliable alternative.
The aim is threefold:
1)     To establish the Definitive Course List as soon as possible so that we can safely advise those remaining on any Waiting List in sufficient time that they are on the overspill OSCE or Viva Weekends
2)     To ensure that we are not embarrassed or compromised by having unfilled places on the course after having told those on the residual Waiting List that the course was full.
3)     To avoid being left with empty places due to late cancellations for whatever reason.

One final note:
We have decided that we will not accept candidates on to the course unless they can show on the Opening Day of the Course that they have been accepted as a candidate for the Imminent Examination in London.

You will be asked on your Registration Form for your College Reference Number (CRN). Your CRN will be checked against the RCOA Allocations List. If you are unable to produce these then your place will be given up to one of the Observers on the Course.

We have decided this because, a couple of courses ago, it became obvious that one or two of the candidates were not sitting the imminent examination and, as they were not adequately prepared,  they were overwhelmed by the demands of the course which was neither fair to them nor to the others on the course.

Dr Tushar Dixit
MSA Associate Director & OSCE/Orals Consultant Lead

Kirstie Gray
MSA Operations

Updated: January 2020