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Studying with us during coronavirus in 2022

Physical Assessment and Decision Making Skills

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 4502
Level 7
Start dateAutumn or Spring
FeesSee Fees and funding below
Module leaderHarriet Oliver


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 and develop as an autonomous clinician. 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.

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.

After completion of the module you will be able to:

  • Demonstrate mastery of clinical assessment skills in relation to own client group
  • Critically analyse the nature of holistic assessment and the application of theoretical models to the process of assessment
  • Critically appraise clinical decision making strategies
  • Demonstrate ability to share knowledge and expertise in assessment with other health care professionals
  • Discuss differential diagnosis of patient presentations
  • Extrapolate and integrate advanced knowledge into clinical patient assessment
  • Synthesise assessment findings to reach conclusions that are based on evidence, clinical judgement and risk assessment
  • Incorporate innovative and creative ways of practice into physical assessment skills
  • Develop implement and critically appraise a therapeutic plan in collaboration with other health professionals
  • Demonstrate growth as an independent practitioner through portfolio development.

Course content

During this module, you'll learn:

  1. Anatomy, physiology and pathophysiology 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.

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 33% OSCE based on  the clinical examination skills learnt as well as history taking and a written paper based on anatomy, physiology and clinical scenarios.

The next 33% of the assessment is a portfolio to demonstrate the individual is able to work as an independent practitioner.

The final 33% will be based upon an extended case study demonstrating the students ability to reflect upon the complexity of their role as an independent practitioner.

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
30 credits: £1,800

*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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