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Studying with us during coronavirus in 2021

Introduction to Physical Assessment

Develop the skills of physical assessment and apply this to your clinical practice through our short course designed for a wide range of practitioners including physiotherapists, occupational therapists, emergency and primary care nurses, critical care outreach teams and walk-in centre professionals.

Module codeNSA 3512
Start dateAutumn or Spring
FeesSee Fees and funding below
Module leaderHarriet Oliver


Aims: The aim of this module is to enable the experienced practitioner to develop the skills of physical assessment, and apply this to their clinical context. It provides the autonomous practitioner with the advanced knowledge base, communication skills, and safe clinical examination skills, to equip them to make confident autonomous, effective and evidence based patient care decisions. It enables the student to undertake an autonomous assessment to start to plan appropriate care or referral for their patients.

Who is the module for:  This module is applicable to emergency nurse practitioners, primary care nurse practitioners, community matrons, night-nurse practitioners, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, nurses working in pre-surgical clinics, and day surgery, cardiac and respiratory clinics, critical care outreach teams and walk-in centres.

Benefits:  After completion of the module you will be able to:

  • Develop knowledge and skills in order to start to facilitate a safe holistic patient assessment
  • Apply your knowledge of anatomy and physiology in conjunction with physical assessment to each body system
  • Use more advanced communication techniques, evidence based knowledge and critical thinking in order to identify patient needs
  • Identify presenting complaint and synthesise findings from physical  examination and assessment and then relates this to underlying pathophysiology
  • Use history taking and clinical findings in order to aid with differential diagnosis
  • Reflect on prior professional experience to aid with decision making
  • Collaborate with colleagues in assessment and referral of patient.

Course content

During this module, you'll learn:

  1. Anatomy and physiology review
  2. History taking and documentation
  3. Physical assessment skills- inspection, auscultation, percussion and palpation
  4. Systems covered- Respiratory, Cardiovascular, Abdomen, Neurology, Muscular Skeletal and Ear nose and Throat
  5. Recognition of abnormalities within these systems
  6. Advanced communication and decision making
  7. Role of the multidisciplinary team.


Learning and teaching will have a problem orientated focus through guided study and case scenarios in order to develop and reinforce lifelong learning perspectives for clinical skills. This will be done through guided on line learning supported by narrated presentations and online demonstration videos for the student to access at any time. Students will join study days to access clinical assessment skill demonstrations and supervision from teachers. Students will then be given the opportunity to develop these learnt assessment skills but application of skills will not be assessed.

Study days will give the opportunity for development, application and reflection of clinical examination skills to aid with diagnosis and plan care/ referral.


Assessment will be 100% OSCE based on all the clinical examination skills learnt as well as history taking and a written paper based on anatomy, physiology and clinical scenarios.

Entry requirements

Current employment and support to practice in an appropriate health care setting. The student should be able to give details of an allocated clinically experienced (in that field) supervisor who will support their clinical practice.

To apply for this course, please go to our CPD health practitioner page and complete an application form.

Fees and funding

The fees* below refer to the 2019/20 academic year unless otherwise stated.

Per credit: £60
15 credits: £900

*Course fees are subject to annual inflation.

There are several funding options available:

  • receiving course fees via CPPD contracts between NHS trusts and Middlesex University
  • paying your own fees
  • sponsorship by your employer (but not under a CPPD contract).

For more information for any of these options, including fee rates for self-funding/employer-sponsored students, please visit our dedicated funding page.

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