1. it will have the same format as before, that is Two role plays on 2 different topics.
2. the role plays are still 5 minutes long (each) with reading and planning time before each role play.
3. You will play the part of the healthcare professional (doctor, nurse etc) and the interlocutor (who is NOT an assessor) will play the part of a patient, carer of a patient or parent.
So, what has changed?
If you look at the information from OET (in the image above), you'll see that they say they are 'now' also assessing clinical communication skills. These are listed (relationship-building,understanding patient's perspective etc). I would argue that I have always taught these skills and believe that demonstration of these skills in the role play should have already resulted in candidates gaining a good score. In my way of thinking, strong candidates will be demonstrating these skills already.
Breaking down these clinical communication skills then, we have:
1. Relationship building
This is about how you introduce yourself to the patient and ensure that they understand your role:
Hi, my name is Joan. I'm one of the GPs here.
Hi, I'm Peter one of the nurses in the Emergency Department.
It is also about how you manage to put the patient at ease and give them confidence to listen to you.
2. Understanding the patient's perspective
An important communication skill is demonstrating a non-judgemental approach to listening. You may not agree with what the patient appears to be saying (I don't want to come back to hospital to have the dressing done, I'm sure I can do it myself), but you need to try to understand why the patient may have that viewpoint.
This may mean, empathising with patients (I imagine that it's going to be very frustrating not to be able to work, until the wound heals...), accepting the patient's right to a different viewpoint (I appreciate your right to that opinion, however...) and possibly making some suggestions which may encourage the patient to think differently. (I have some information here which may give you some different ideas about the issue).
This skill is NOT about saying:
I'm telling you to do this for the sake of your health, because I understand this better than you do.
You've got the wrong idea, what you should do is follow my treatment, if you want to get better.
I'm the professional here, so it would be a good idea for you to listen to my advice, if you want to get better.
3. Providing Structure to the Role Play
Again, this is something I always advise in role plays and in real life. If you are explaining a procedure for example, you need to break your information into 'chunks' - I advise no more than 3 pieces of information at a time, if possible. We signpost or give listeners cues about what we are going to say:
I'll explain about the blood test now. First, I'll take a small amount of blood from your vein. Then, I'll give you a very sugary drink. After 15 minutes, I'll take another blood sample. That way I can check the differences in blood sugar levels.
Providing structure may also mean bringing patients back to the structure you wanted to follow, e.g. if the 'patient' tries to distract you by talking about something else. You may have to demonstrate that you can interrupt politely and redirect the conversation.
4 Gathering Information
No change here. You have always had to gather information....but now, there is the added
5. Establishing what the patient already knows
Candidates should have been doing this already, as it affects the level of language which may be used by the healthcare professional. For example, a 'patient' who says things like The doctor says I've got XYZ, but I haven't got a clue will be treated differently (from a language point of view) from a 'patient' who says I've had XYZ for a few months now and I'm having trouble with... (this patient probably already has some knowledge).