Medical students' clinical skills do not match their teachers' expectations: survey at Zagreb University School of Medicine, Croatia

Croat Med J. 2006 Feb;47(1):169-75.


Aim: To evaluate self-assessed level of clinical skills of graduating medical students at Zagreb University School of Medicine and compare them with clinical skill levels expected by their teachers and those defined by a criterion standard.

Method: The study included all medical students (n=252) graduating from the Zagreb University School of Medicine in the 2004-2005 academic year and faculty members (n=129) involved in teaching clinical skills. The participants completed anonymous questionnaire listing 99 clinical skills divided into nine groups. Students were asked to assess their clinical skills on a 0-5 scale, and faculty members were asked to assess the minimum necessary level of clinical skills expected from graduating medical students, using the same 0-5 scale. We compared the assessment scores of faculty members with students' self-assessment scores. Participants were grouped according to their descriptive characteristics for further comparison.

Results: The response rate was 91% for students and 70% for faculty members. Students' self-assessment scores in all nine groups of clinical skills ranged from 2.2-/+0.8 to 3.8-/+0.5 and were lower than those defined by the criterion standard (3.0-4.0) and those expected by teachers (from 3.1-/+1.0 to 4.4-/+0.5) (P<0.001 for all). Students who had additional clinical skills training had higher scores in all groups of skills, ranging from 2.6-/+0.9 to 4.0-/+0.5 (P<0.001 for all). Male students had higher scores than female students in emergency (P<0.001), neurology (P=0.017), ear, nose, and throat (P=0.002), urology (P=0.003), and surgery skills (P=0.002). Teachers' expectations did not vary according to their sex, academic position, or specialty.

Conclusion: Students' self-assessed level of clinical skills was lower than that expected by their teachers. Education during clinical rotations is not focused on acquiring clinical skills, and additional clinical skills' training has a positive influence on students' self-assessed level of clinical skills. There was no consensus among teachers on the required level of students' clinical skills.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Clinical Competence*
  • Croatia
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate*
  • Faculty, Medical
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Self-Assessment
  • Students, Medical*
  • Teaching