The format employed for the Final Membership Examination is an Objective Structured Public Health Examination (OSPHE). This is a ‘show how’ role-play based assessment of a candidate's ability to apply and integrate relevant knowledge, skills and attitudes to the practice of public health. The scenarios in the OSPHE are chosen to represent everyday public health issues in commonly experienced settings and are often based on the experiences of question setting examiners. Familiarity with NHS procedures or practices is not required. The OSPHE takes the form of six scenarios or ‘stations'. Each station lasts eight minutes and is preceded by eight minutes preparation time.
A role player and an examiner assess candidates across the same five competency areas at every station. These are:
- The ability to demonstrate presenting communication skills (verbal and non-verbal) appropriately in typical public health settings: presenting to a person or audience
- The ability to demonstrate listening and comprehending communication skills (verbal and non-verbal) appropriately in typical public health settings: listening and responding appropriately
- The ability to assimilate relevant information from a variety of sources and settings and using it appropriately from a public health perspective
- The ability to demonstrate appropriate reasoning, analytical and judgement skills, giving a balanced view within public health settings
- The ability to handle uncertainty, the unexpected, challenge or conflict
OSPHE topic areas
The six scenarios aim to cover the breadth of public health and its application. The following are the main categories considered:
- Health Protection e.g. case and outbreak management, immunisation services, and environmental subjects
- Health Improvement e.g. lifestyle and behavioural interventions at individual and population level, assessment of wider determinants of health, primary prevention
- Healthcare e.g. service delivery and/or improvement, access to treatment, assessment of inequalities, screening services, working with patients, professionals or organisations, secondary and tertiary prevention
- Data: e.g. interpretation, explanation, utilisation, and assessment of quality
The scenarios also cover a variety of settings, for example:
- Working with the Media e.g. journalist (newspaper, radio) or press officer
- Meetings with lay people e.g. member of parliament, local councillor, chair of voluntary organisation, patient, parent or community leader;
- Working with other professionals e.g. Director of Adult Social Care, Director of Public Health, commissioning manager or healthcare staff (clinician, management)
Method of delivery
From September 2022, the exam returned to face to face assessment and will continue to be delivered in this format, except in the case of COVID-related restrictions being implemented. A variety of different venues will be used in different parts of the UK.
- All equipment required for the exam is provided, including pens, paper and highlighters for making notes. You can make notes on your question paper or plain note paper provided and take this with you to the exam station. Your notes should be disposed of before leaving the exam station.
- Water will be provided in each room.
- No snacks/food should be brought onto the circuit except those previously arranged due to medical need.