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Physical Assessment and Decision Making Skills

Module code Level 6: NSA 3512 (15 credits)
Level 7: NSA 4502 (30 credits)
              NSA 4512 (15 credits)      
Start Autumn term
Spring term
Summer term      
Duration One day every two weeks over four months
Attendance Part-time
Fees See the Fees and funding below
Course leader Harriet Oliver


These modules are offered at Introductory level (level 6) and Advanced level, for those undertaking autonomous practice. They have been designed for emergency nurse practitioners, primary care nurse practitioners, community matrons, night-nurse practitioners, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, and nurses working in pre-surgical clinics, day surgery, cardiac and respiratory clinics, critical care outreach teams and walk-in centres.

The aim of these modules are to enable you, as the experienced practitioner, to develop your physical assessment skills and apply this to your clinical context. As the autonomous practitioner, you will be equipped with the advanced knowledge base, communication skills, and safe clinical examination skills to make confident autonomous, effective and evidence based patient care decisions. You will also be able to undertake an autonomous assessment to start planning appropriate care or referral for your patients.

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

This module will over the following areas:

  • Anatomy and physiology review
  • History taking and documentation
  • Physical assessment skills- inspection, auscultation, percussion and palpation
  • Systems covered- Respiratory, Cardiovascular, Abdomen, Neurology, Muscular Skeletal and ear, nose and throat
  • Recognition of abnormalities within these systems
  • Advanced communication and decision making
  • Role of the multidisciplinary team.

Learning and teaching

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 access face to face clinical assessment skill demonstrations and supervision from teachers. Students will then be given the opportunity to develop these learnt assessment skills so it is essential that the student has a supervisor in practice and has secured an appropriate practice setting.

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 for level 6 and mix of OSCE and Portfolio for level 7. OSCE is based on all the clinical examination skills learnt as well as history taking and a written paper based on anatomy, physiology and clinical scenarios.

How to apply

To be eligible for this module you must have current employment and support to practice in an appropriate health care setting. You should also be able to give details of an allocated clinically experienced (in that field) supervisor who will support your clinical practice.

Please visit our CPD page to download a healthcare and social work application form and for more information on the application process.

Fees and funding

The fees* below refer to the 2021/22 academic year unless otherwise stated.

Level 6:

Per credit: £60
15 credits: £900

Level 7:

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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