Oral examinations have a traditional place in training and evaluation of professionals. Despite a lack of evidence identifying their value in assessment of candidates seeking anaesthetic specialty certification, oral examinations continue to be widely used. Although there is a considerable body of literature concerning oral examinations, there is no description of how this technique is employed in anaesthesia in Canada. The objective of this review is to provide faculty and residents with information concerning the strengths and weaknesses of this format, and the structure of the oral examination as practised in anaesthesia. Reliability of oral examinations can be affected by a number of factors dependent on the examiner, candidate, and the format. Properly constructed and prepared questions have well-defined characteristics. Components tested during the oral examination include: evaluation of a clinical situation, choice of therapy, medical knowledge, ability to deal with emergency situations, decision-making ability, and communication skills. When appropriately planned, the oral examination can be a useful component of the certification process.
Comment In: Can J Anaesth. 1993 Oct;40(10):907-108222027