Medical students' perception of the proposal for theme-based integrated multi-disciplinary objective structured practical examination in Saudi Arabia.
BACKGROUND The practical examinations in subject-based curriculum have been criticized for lack of relevance and clinical application. We developed competency-based integrated practical examinations (IPEs) for first two years incorporating basic science principles with clinical relevance in our integrated curriculum. AIM To bring relevance to basic science laboratory practical examinations by conducting competency-based IPEs. METHODS IPEs were developed according to competency-based blueprinting for each integrated module. Clinical scenarios were used as triggers followed by tasks pertaining to laboratory tests, relevant physical diagnosis and ethics/professional aspects utilizing standardized patients. Checklists were developed for standardized marking. A feedback questionnaire and two focus group discussions were administered to a random group of students from both first and second year students. Faculty members' feedback was also recorded on a questionnaire. RESULTS Almost all the students agreed that IPE was a useful experience. Eighty-nine percent agreed that it was a fair examination and elicited a lesser degree of psychological stress. Eighty-two percent agreed that IPE encouraged critical thinking and application of knowledge. However, students suggested better organization and longer duration of stations. Faculty members also liked the experience. CONCLUSION In conclusion, IPEs were well-received and valued both by students and faculty members.