Lately, I have had some interesting conversations with candidates who have had a different experience of nursing from my own. The kinds of conversations they have with patients are sometimes quite different from the conversations they will have when they work in Australia, New Zealand, the UK etc. Sometimes, they do not have any experience of communication strategies like persuading a patient to accept a treatment or reassuring a patient. This is part of a wider style of communicating and includes what we refer to as 'intercultural communication'.
The speaking section of the test often confuses some candidates and so, rather than answer the individual emails I receive, I decided to make a short YouTube video dealing with some of the issues of the role play. You can find the YouTube video along with a transcript of the video on this website.
The most important feature of the OET is the concentration on assessing the language competence of each candidate. Whilst it may be disappointing for a candidate to receive a mark below the essential B grade, it's important to remember that this may indicate that the candidate cannot communicate effectively enough to be a safe practitioner. The healthcare area, be it physiotherapy, podiatry,dentistry, nursing or medicine is all about safe practice. Unlike other ESP areas, communication in healthcare must be safe and accurate. This is where the OET has the potential to be not just an entrance exam but a test of ongoing ability. The need to read medical information is always there - at the workplace, in research, during continuing professional development. The need to be able to communicate in a variety of situations is ongoing - giving bad news, dealing with aggressive patients, managing difficult situations etc. These communication skills are developed with experience but can be practised using the kinds of role plays found in the OET.