Creation and assessment of a structured review course in physical diagnosis for medical residents
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Objective: To evaluate the effects of a course in physical diagnosis on the knowledge, skills, and attitudes of internal medicine trainees.
Design: A controlled, prospective assignment of housestaff to a yearlong curricular program, linked to a set of pre- and posttests. House-officers who could not attend the teaching sessions functioned as control subjects.
Setting: An internal medicine training program at an urban medical school.
Subjects: 56 (86.1%) of 65 eligible internal medicine housestaff (postgraduate years 1 through 3) participated in the intervention and assessment. A comparison group of 14 senior medical students participated in the pretest.
Intervention: 12 monthly lectures emphasizing skills useful in emergencies or validated by the literature.
Measurements: The pre- and posttests included: 1) a multiple-choice questionnaire to assess knowledge; 2) professional standardized patients to assess selected skills; and 3) Likert-type questionnaires to assess self-motivated learning and attitude toward diagnosis not based on technology.
Main results: The residents expressed interest in the program and on a six-point scale rated the usefulness of lectures and standardized patients as 3.5±1.3 and 4.3±1, respectively. For no system tested, however, did they achieve more than 55.2% correct answers (range: 24.2%–55.2%, median =41.04), and their performance did not differ from that of the fourth-year medical students. There was no significant difference in pre/posttest improvement between the control and intervention groups.
Conclusions: These data confirm the deficiencies of physical diagnostic skills and knowledge among physicians in training. These deficiencies were not corrected by the classroom lecture series. Improvement in these skills may require a more intense experiential program made part of residency requirements.
Key wordseducation residents physical examination diagnostic skills performance assessment
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