Do’s & Dont’s of Clinical Assessment

November 19th, 2018


Do’s & Dont’s of Clinical Assessment

We often get asked by Candidates how they should prepare for their Clinical Assessments.  At APC, our role isn’t to provide educational training but rather to assess a Candidate’s ability to apply clinical skills in Australian healthcare settings.

Having said that, we regularly receive feedback from our Assessors regarding key points they see Candidates miss time and time again in Clinical Assessments.  So being the customer obsessed bunch we are…we thought we would share their invaluable feedback with you!

Whether you are undertaking the assessment in a simulated environment or in a hospital/private practice, we’ve compiled some of the most common Do’s and Don’ts.


1. Have A Prepared Treatment Plan Which You Don’t Modify

This is one of the most important tips of all. You may wish to go into the assessment with an outline of a treatment plan, but it is imperative that you adjust it to be suitable for the patient you are treating on the day of your assessment. Whilst the overarching patient diagnosis may be the same, no patient has exactly the same history, symptoms and work/home environment, so a set treatment plan that you use for all patients with that particular diagnosis will not be appropriate. 

2. Assume Orientation Will Educate You How to Use Equipment

The purpose of orientation is to inform you where equipment can be found and to familiarise you with the environment. The purpose of orientation is not to educate you how to use the equipment. Please remember (and rest assured) you are being assessed against the standard of an Australian entry-level graduate, not as an expert. Candidates are expected to know how to use equipment such as breathing devices, survey-based outcome measures and gait aids.



1. Listen to The Patient

It is important to actively listen to what the patient is telling you. Build rapport with the patient. Don’t talk at the patient, take the time to listen to what they are telling you. Their cues can be vital. It may assist you to adjust your approach specific for that patient.

2. Conduct A Thorough Assessment

If you don’t conduct a thorough assessment it will be very difficult to complete an effective treatment as you may have missed significant problems. Ask the patient questions regarding their social history, especially their home environment.

3. Educate the Patient About Your Findings

The more you explain to the patient what your assessment findings are, the less the Assessors will have to question after the patient time. Ensure the instruction of exercises given to the patient are clear and succinct so the patient can absorb the information. Consider: (1) the aim of the exercise; (2) how many repetitions and sets are required; as well as (3) how often it needs to be performed during the day.

In addition to explaining the exercises, consider if it will be best to demonstrate the exercises and ask the patient to practice the exercises.  By educating the patient, it will demonstrate to the assessor what you are finding and how it impacts your treatment choices. The Assessors are eminently skilled, but they can’t read your mind!

4. Manage Your Time Independently

Candidates are given 50 minutes patient time. Assessors will provide 2 x time calls: the first at the 20-minute mark, the second at the 40-minute mark. It is important you manage your time independently and not rely on the Assessor to provide any more than two, time calls. If you were in the workplace no one would remind you of the remaining patient time, you would be expected to manage it yourself.

5. Consider Health and Safety Issues

Whether you are undertaking your assessment in the simulated environment or hospital/private practice-based environment ensure you consider the following:

  • Is hand washing/gloves/gown appropriate?
  • Patient’s footwear, e.g. non-slip
  • Wheelchairs, e.g. brakes, position, what is the patient’s ability on the day, etc
  • Crutches/walking aids, e.g. check first, adjust the height, what is the patient’s ability on the day?
  • Prepare patient/attachments (e.g. post-surgery) carefully before commencing a walk. Make sure you plan walk/rests/chair or bed to finish.


A two word summary…prepare & adapt!!!

From all of us here at the APC,  we wish you every conceivable success for your assessments!!!

And please please please watch this space.  Come January 2019, we will publish some more powerful insights from Candidates who have completed their Clinical Assessments and the Assessors who are on the front line every day.  We can’t wait to share their stories with you…

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