Guidance on OSFA preparation workshops

This information will be useful if you are a training officer or training consortia planning to run an OSFA preparation workshop with trainees.

We recommend that you offer workshops on:

  • Writing OSFA stations – 2 hour session
  • Attempting stations and reflection – 1 hour session

Guidance for a station writing session

Trainees will gain an insight into the format of stations and the tasks they may be presented with at their OSFA by having a go at writing stations themselves. For this workshop we can send you resources used by OSFA station writers and recommended for this workshop if you request them:

  • Developing station ideas template
  • OSFA Station Writing template
  • Guidance for Writing your Station Mark scheme
  • Guide to setting the OSFA station pass mark

If possible the guidance on writing stations should be done by a trained and experienced OSFA station writer. The guidance should include:

  • Structure the writing process systematically and work backwards – begin with a broad idea about what a clinical scientist in your field needs to be good at and fine tune this into a detailed station idea
  • Don’t try to be overly creative – tasks should be familiar and part of routine practice
  • Think about the steps involved in the station task – can these be realistically attempted in 12 minutes?
  • Ensure your station tests application of knowledge and skill, rather than recall of knowledge as the OSFA is a practical exam.

It is useful for trainees to work in pairs to develop their stations, as some individuals could be better at thinking of ideas and others at working up the stations. Stations should be peer reviewed across pairs and bear in mind that participants should not peer review stations that they are likely to attempt in a training mock OSFA.

Guidance for an attempting stations session

Getting trainees to attempt a station is a valuable learning experience in preparation for the live OSFAs. As all trainees are invited to the national mock OSFA where they will experience the whole OSFA process, an informal approach can be taken for delivering OSFA stations in a training workshop. This will allow trainees to question and discuss the content and format of stations and to get a good sense of the strategies they need to develop in order to give their best performance in their live OSFA.

Suggestions for the workshop

  • Ensure trainees are attempting stations that they have not been involved in developing themselves.
  • Time the 12 minute station duration so that trainees can understand the pace at which they will need to work to complete the task
  • Time the 3 minute duration between attempting 2 stations so trainees can appreciate and practice how to structure this time to prepare for attempting the task inside the station
  • Where possible, have stations assessed by trained OSFA assessors.

If you have any questions on how to run the workshops or have other ideas to share on preparing trainees for their OSFA please contact the assessment team at nshcs.assessment@hee.nhs.uk