Background: The intern year is a key time for the acquisition of clinical skills, both procedural and cognitive. We have previously described self-reported confidence and experience for a number of clinical skills, finding high levels of confidence among Australian junior doctors. This has never been correlated with an objective measure of competence.
Aims and hypothesis: We aimed to determine the relationship between self-reported confidence and observed competence for a number of routine, procedural clinical skills.
Methods: A group of 30 junior medical officers in their first postgraduate year (PGY1) was studied. All subjects completed a questionnaire concerning their confidence and experience in the performance of clinical skills. A competency-based assessment instrument concerning 7 common, practical, clinical skills was developed, piloted and refined. All 30 PGY1s then completed an assessment using this instrument. Comparisons were then made between the PGY1s' self-reported levels of confidence and tutors' assessments of their competence.
Results: A broad range of competence levels was revealed by the clinical skills assessments. There was no correlation between the PGY1s' self-ratings of confidence and their measured competencies.
Conclusions: Junior medical officers in PGY1 demonstrate a broad range of competence levels for several common, practical, clinical skills, with some performing at an inadequate level. There is no relationship between their self-reported level of confidence and their formally assessed performance. This observation raises important caveats about the use of self-assessment in this group.