A survey of basic technical skills of medical students

Acad Med. 2004 Sep;79(9):873-5. doi: 10.1097/00001888-200409000-00013.


Purpose: In 1998, the Medical Schools Objectives Project (MSOP) Report listed the minimum routine technical procedures that graduating medical students should be proficient to perform. The authors conducted a survey to determine to what extent basic technical skills are being taught formally and how student competence in these skills is being evaluated in U.S. medical schools.

Method: A questionnaire of five items, designed to supplement existing information in CurrMIT, the national curriculum database for medical schools, was transmitted electronically via the AAMC listserv to associate deans for academic affairs.

Results: Sixty-two of the 126 medical schools (52%) responded to the survey. Most agreed that graduating medical students should be proficient to perform basic technical skills. Fifty-five percent of the respondents required students to keep logs of procedures performed. A majority responded that their students were proficient to perform venipuncture, IV placement, suturing lacerations, Foley catheter placement, and arterial puncture. The responding schools stated that few students are proficient in thoracentesis and intubation of children and neonates.

Conclusions: It is likely that half of the medical schools are not attaining the MSOP objective of rigorously teaching and evaluating technical procedures. Currently, more measures and more sophisticated measures of physicians' performance are being implemented in medical practice. The authors' findings call attention to this educational need and act as a stimulus to improve this aspect of medical education.

MeSH terms

  • Academic Medical Centers*
  • Clinical Competence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Data Collection
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate / standards*
  • Students, Medical*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States