AlphaPlus has recently begun work on a three-year project for the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). The NMC is the regulatory body for nurses, midwives and the newly introduced nursing associates in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.
The project is to design, develop and maintain the NMC’s Test of Competence (TOC), used for nurses or midwives from outside the UK who are qualified in their home country and who want to become a nurse or midwife in the UK. The TOC is a two-part assessment comprising a 100-mark multiple choice test (part 1) and a 10-station OSCE (part 2). The test is designed to assess a candidate’s ability to meet the NMC’s standards of proficiency and to practise safely, effectively and in accordance with the NMC’s Code of Conduct.
The first part of the TOC is a computer-based test (CBT) in which candidates answer 100 multiple choice questions in 2.5 hours. The CBT questions operate in concert with the OSCE to deliver the overall objective of the test of competence. We are developing a bank of multiple-choice questions that can populate a number of papers, ensuring that familiarity through multiple sittings does not give rise to an unfair advantage and the security of the test is maintained. In order to ensure that the CBT remains current, consistent, valid and reliable, we are also providing new items to the NMC on a quarterly basis, and reviewing and removing questions as appropriate.
The second part of the TOC is an OSCE (objective, structured, clinical examination), a practical assessment of the skills and values required to practice in the UK. Each of the ten stations will assess different elements of the Future Nurse or Future Midwife standards – for example, one could involve the candidate assessing the needs of an elderly patient who has been taken to A and E, while another involves administering medication to a child or measuring the vital signs of an asthma patient. In the assessments, either the patients are played by actors or mannequins are used. We may also need to develop a different assessment for candidates applying from within the European Union, depending on the outcome of the Brexit debates.
The project started in June and we have spent the first 3 months of the project gathering information, speaking to stakeholders and drafting our planning documents. We are now about to begin developing content for the first batch of materials which will be required for June 2020. The development process will include trialling and standards setting for the various materials, and developing support materials for candidates and trainers. Year 2 will see us developing similar assessment materials for Nursing Associates, and also expanding the content available for the four nursing fields (adult nursing, children’s nursing, mental health nursing and learning disabilities nursing) and for midwives.