Approaches to Teaching the Physical Exam to Preclerkship Medical Students: Results of a National Survey. Journal Article


Authors: Uchida, T; Park, YS; Ovitsh, RK; Hojsak, J; Gowda, D; Farnan, JM; Boyle, M; Blood, AD; Achike, FI; Silvestri, RC
Article Title: Approaches to Teaching the Physical Exam to Preclerkship Medical Students: Results of a National Survey.
Abstract: PURPOSE: To assess current approaches to teaching the physical exam to preclerkship students at U.S. medical schools. METHOD: The Directors of Clinical Skills Courses (DOCS) developed a 49-question survey addressing the approach, pedagogical methods, and assessment methods of preclerkship physical exam curricula. The survey was administered to all 141 LCME-accredited U.S. medical schools in October 2015. Results were aggregated across schools, and survey weights were used to adjust for response rate and school size. RESULTS: One hundred six medical schools (75%) responded. Seventy-nine percent of schools (84) began teaching the physical exam within the first 2 months of medical school. Fifty-six percent of schools (59) employed both a "head-to-toe" comprehensive approach and a clinical reasoning approach. Twenty-three percent of schools (24) taught a portion of the physical exam interprofessionally. Videos, online modules, and simulators were used widely, and 39% of schools (41) used bedside ultrasonography. Schools reported a median of 4 formative assessments and 3 summative assessments, with 16% of schools (17) using criterion-based standard-setting methods for physical exam assessments. Results did not vary significantly by school size. CONCLUSIONS: There was a wide variation in how medical schools teach the physical exam to preclerkship students. Common pedagogical approaches included early initiation of physical exam instruction, use of technology, and methods that support clinical reasoning and competency-based medical education. Approaches used by a minority of schools included interprofessional education, ultrasound, and criterion-based standard setting methods for assessments. Opportunities abound for research into the optimal methods for teaching the physical exam.
Journal Title: Academic medicine : journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges
ISSN: 1938-808X; 1040-2446
Publisher: Academic medicine : journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges  
Date Published: 2018