, Volume 25, Issue 8, pp 780-785
Date: 26 Mar 2010

Simulation-based Mastery Learning Improves Cardiac Auscultation Skills in Medical Students

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Abstract

Background

Cardiac auscultation is a core clinical skill. However, prior studies show that trainee skills are often deficient and that clinical experience is not a proxy for competence.

Objective

To describe a mastery model of cardiac auscultation education and evaluate its effectiveness in improving bedside cardiac auscultation skills.

Design

Untreated control group design with pretest and posttest.

Participants

Third-year students who received a cardiac auscultation curriculum and fourth year students who did not.

Intervention

A cardiac auscultation curriculum consisting of a computer tutorial and a cardiac patient simulator. All third-year students were required to meet or exceed a minimum passing score (MPS) set by an expert panel at posttest.

Measurements

Diagnostic accuracy with simulated heart sounds and actual patients.

Results

Trained third-year students (n = 77) demonstrated significantly higher cardiac auscultation accuracy compared to untrained fourth year students (n = 31) in assessment of simulated heart sounds (93.8% vs. 73.9%, p < 0.001) and with real patients (81.8% vs. 75.1%, p = 0.003). USMLE scores correlated modestly with a computer-based multiple choice assessment using simulated heart sounds but not with bedside skills on real patients.

Conclusions

A cardiac auscultation curriculum consisting of deliberate practice with a computer-based tutorial and a cardiac patient simulator resulted in improved assessment of simulated heart sounds and more accurate examination of actual patients.