Maximizing the Acquisition of Core Communication Skills at the Start of Medical Training

Lead Author: Hasan Mohiaddin
Submitted by: Marsha Harman, Rush University

How does contact with actual patients affect how medical students develop communication skills, and how does it impact their performance in an SP encounter? First year medical students at Imperial College London learn communication skills through lectures, small group teaching, and SP encounters. This study compared two groups of first-year students; the study group experienced repeated contact with real patients as part of a volunteer organization aiming to reduce isolation in elderly inpatients, while the control group received only the formal curriculum on communication.

The study found no significant difference in the student scores during the SP encounter; however, the students with real patient contact reported increased confidence in their communication skills. The authors suggest that interaction with real patients could be included in the design of future medical curricula, and that further research may identify other possibilities for integrating the two modes of communication.

Read the full article in Advances in Medical Education and Practice here.

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