Comparison between medical students' experience, confidence and competence

Med Educ. 2002 Jun;36(6):534-9. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2923.2002.01228.x.


Objectives: This study was undertaken to determine whether or not breadth of clinical experience and student levels of confidence were indicators of competency on standardized simulator performance-based assessments.

Methods: All students (n=144) attending an educational session were asked to complete a 25-point questionnaire regarding specific clinical experiences and levels of confidence in their ability to manage patient problems. For enumeration of clinical experiences, students were asked to estimate the number of times a situation had been encountered or a skill had been performed. For level of confidence, each response was based on a 5-point Likert scale where 1=novice and 5=expert. Students then participated in a standardized simulated performance test. Median and range were calculated and data analysed using Spearman rank correlations. A P-value <0.05 was considered significant. Level of confidence data were compared to performance during clinical rotation and to marks in the anaesthesia final examination.

Results: A total of 144 students attended the session, completed the questionnaire and participated in the standardized test. There were wide ranges of experience and confidence in the 25 listed items. Analysis of data showed good correlation between clinical experience and level of confidence. There was no correlation between clinical experience, level of confidence and performance in a standardized simulation test. Neither was there any correlation between level of confidence and clinical grades or written examination marks.

Conclusions: Clinical experience and level of confidence have no predictive value in performance assessments when using standardized anaesthesia simulation scenarios.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Canada
  • Clinical Competence*
  • Curriculum
  • Education, Medical / methods*
  • Educational Measurement
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Patient Simulation
  • Students, Medical / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires