Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 12, Issue 3, pp 177–181

Are Fourth-Year Medical Students Effective Teachers of the Physical Examination to First-Year Medical Students?

  • Steven A. Haist
  • John F. Wilson
  • Sue E. Fosson
  • Nancy L. Brigham
Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s11606-006-5026-4

Cite this article as:
Haist, S., Wilson, J., Fosson, S. et al. J GEN INTERN MED (1997) 12: 177. doi:10.1007/s11606-006-5026-4


To determine if fourth-year medical students are as effective as faculty in teaching the physical examination to first-year medical students.


Stratified randomization of the first-year students.


A public medical school.


All 100 first-year medical students in one medical school class were randomly assigned (controlling for gender) to either a faculty or a fourth-year student preceptor for the Physical Examination Module.


The first-year students of faculty preceptors scored no differently on the written examination than the students of the fourth-year medical student preceptors (82.8% vs 80.3%, p = .09) and no differently on a standardized patient practical examination (95.5% vs 95.4%, p = .92). Also, the first-year students rated the two groups of preceptors similarly on an evaluation form, with faculty rated higher on six items and the student preceptors rated higher on six items (all p > .10). The fourth-year student preceptors rated the experience favorably.


Fourth-year medical students were as successful as faculty in teaching first-year medical students the physical examination as measured by first-year student's performances on objective measures and ratings of teaching effectiveness.

survey education teaching physical examination small-group teaching preceptors 

Copyright information

© Society of General Internal Medicine 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Steven A. Haist
    • 1
  • John F. Wilson
    • 2
  • Sue E. Fosson
    • 4
  • Nancy L. Brigham
    • 3
  1. 1.Departments of Internal Medicine, University of KentuckyLexingtonUSA
  2. 2.Behavioral Science, University of KentuckyLexingtonUSA
  3. 3.Psychology, University of KentuckyLexingtonUSA
  4. 4.College of Medicine Office of Academic Affairs, University of KentuckyLexingtonUSA