Background and objectives: Teaching physical examination skills effectively, consistently, and cost-effectively is challenging. Faculty time is the most expensive resource. One solution is to train medical students using lay physical examination teaching associates. In this study, we investigated the feasibility, acceptability, and cost-effectiveness of training medical students using teaching associates trained by a lay expert instead of a clinician.
Methods: We used teaching associates to instruct students about techniques of physical examination. We measured students' satisfaction with this teaching approach. We also monitored the financial cost of this approach compared to the previously used approach in which faculty physicians taught physical examination skills.
Results: Our program proved practical to accomplish and acceptable to students. Students rated the program highly, and we saved approximately $9,100, compared with our previous faculty-intensive teaching program.
Conclusions: We believe that our program is popular with students, cost-effective, and generalizable to other institutions.