A national nurse testing centre at Northumbria University, in the UK, has doubled in size to help to speed up the process of bringing more nurses to the NHS frontline.
The initiative is a partnership with the Nursing and Midwifery Council launched to provide the Objective Structured Clinical Examination, known as OSCE, for up to 7,000 candidates per year.
The Objective Structured Clinical Examination is the practical part of the Test of Competence that all nurses, midwives and nursing associates must take before they can be registered to practise.
All overseas-trained nurses and UK nurses returning after a career break are assessed on how well they care for and communicate with patients and must pass the exam before they are permitted to work.
With the centre running successfully, and with an urgent need to recruit more than 100,000 nurses to the NHS, the Nursing and Midwifery Council asked the University if it could expand its current provision and offer more exams.
Northumbria began a major £2 million project to expand the centre to increase its capacity in January, which has led to the creation of more than 50 additional jobs.
An extensive renovation of existing teaching, office and social spaces has led to the University’s Competence Test Centre doubling in size, from 15 to 30 testing bays.
“This is a high stakes exam for the candidates who understandably find the test very stressful.
“Our test centre and University aim is to ensure that our candidates have the best chance of success so that they can join the NHS workforce as safe and effective nurse professionals.”, says Dr Jane Greaves, Associate Professor and strategic lead for the centre.
The centre already employed more than 120 examiners, technicians, administrators and actors who play the role of patients in the exams. These numbers have now been significantly boosted to ensure the centre runs efficiently with its increased capacity and that exams meet the stringent national standards.
As each testing bay is now used to deliver three exams per day, Northumbria University will be able to offer up to 22,000 OSCE exams per year by the end of 2023, once all new staff are in post and fully trained.
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