Teaching foundational physical examination skills: Study results comparing lay teaching associates and physician instructors

University of Colorado, Denver, Colorado, United States
Academic Medicine (Impact Factor: 2.93). 11/2006; 81(10 Suppl):S95-7. DOI: 10.1097/00001888-200610001-00024
Source: PubMed


The purpose of this pilot study was to determine differences in the physical exam skills of first-year medical students learning physical exam exclusively from standardized physical examination teaching associates (SPETAs) or physician faculty.
In all, 144 first-year medical students were randomized to receive SPETA or physician-led physical examination instruction. Students participated in an OSCE assessment immediately following the end of the curriculum block.
SPETA-trained students performed equivalently to physician faculty trained students across all stations with a mean of 82.9% versus 81.2% (p = .226). Students taught by SPETAs performed significantly better on the abdominal OSCE with a mean score of 88.8%, while physician faculty taught students had a mean score of 85.4% (p = .03).
Findings from this study suggest that SPETAs can effectively teach foundational physical examination skills to medical students at a similar and sometimes better performance level as physician faculty.

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