Context: Performing a clinical procedure requires the integration of technical clinical skills with effective communication skills. However, these skills are often taught separately.
Objectives: To explore the feasibility and benefits of a new conceptual model for integrated skills teaching. : Design A qualitative observation and interview-based study of undergraduate medical students.
Methodology: Medical students performed technical and communication skills in realistic clinical scenarios (urinary catherization and wound closure), using latex models connected to simulated patients (SPs). Procedures were observed, videorecorded and assessed by tutors from an adjoining room. Students received immediate feedback from tutors and SPs, before engaging in a process of individual feedback through private review of their videotapes. Group interviews explored the response of students, SPs and tutors. Data were analysed using standard qualitative techniques.
Subjects: Fifty-one undergraduate students were recruited from the Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College, London.
Results: The scenarios provided a realistic simulation of two common clinical situations and proved feasible in terms of time, facilities and resources within this institution. Students found the opportunity to integrate communication and technical skills valuable, challenging and an appropriate learning experience. Immediate feedback was especially highly valued. Some students found difficulty integrating technical and communications skills, but benefited from conducting two procedures in the same session.
Conclusion: The integrated model was feasible and was perceived to be valuable. Benefits include the opportunity to integrate, within a safe environment, skills which are often taught separately. Promoting reflective practice may enable the successful transfer of these integrated skills to other procedures.