, Volume 12, Issue 3, pp 177-181

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

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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.