Background: Mock oral board exams, fashioned after the live patient hour of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology exam, are commonly part of resident assessment during residency training. Exams using real patients selected from clinics or hospitals are not standardized and do not allow comparisons of resident performance across the residency program. We sought to create a standardized patient mock oral board exam that would allow comparison of residents' clinical performance. Methods: Three cases were created and then used for this mock oral boards exercise utilizing trained standardized patients. Residents from the University of Cincinnati and Indiana University participated in the exam. Residents were scored by attending physician examiners who directly observed the encounter with the standardized patient. The standardized patient also assessed each resident. A post-test survey was administered to ascertain participant's satisfaction with the examination process. Results: Resident scores were grouped within one standard deviation of the mean, with the exception of one resident who was also subjectively felt to "fail" the exam. In exams with two faculty "evaluators", scores were highly correlated. The survey showed satisfaction with the examination process in general. Conclusion: Standardized patients can be used for mock oral boards in the live patient format. Our initial experience with this examination process was positive. Further testing is needed to determine if this examination format is more reliable and valid than traditional methods of assessing resident competency.
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