Assessing students' communication and interpersonal skills across evaluation settings

Fam Med. 2003 Oct;35(9):643-8.


Background and objectives: Medical students' interpersonal and communication skills are a fundamental dimension of their clinical competence and will be measured on the anticipated US Medical Licensure Examination (USMLE) standardized patient (SP) exam. We compared students' performance on measures of SP satisfaction on a third-year family medicine Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) with measures of SP satisfaction on a fourth-year Clinical Practice Examination (CPX).

Methods: A total of 127 students completed both the clerkship OSCE and a CPX. The CPX was a pilot of the National Board of Medical Examiners Standardized Patient Exam. To assess students' interpersonal skills, both exams used modified versions of the American Board of Internal Medicine Patient Satisfaction Questionnaire. Students' scores were standardized, and correlations were calculated. A logistic regression model examined the ability of the OSCE to predict poor performance on the CPX.

Results: The correlation between the OSCE and CPX patient satisfaction scores was.08. There was no significant predictive ability of the OSCE for poor performance on the CPX.

Conclusions: Our study calls into question the ability of a routine end-of-clerkship OSCE to identify students' interpersonal skills abilities on fourth-year clinical performance exams and potentially that component of the anticipated USMLE SP exam.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Clinical Competence*
  • Communication*
  • Educational Measurement
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency
  • Licensure
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Physical Examination
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires