Objective: To describe current practices in assessing patient communication skills in US colleges and schools of pharmacy.
Methods: Syllabi and behavioral assessment forms were solicited and key faculty members were interviewed. Forms were analyzed to determine skills most commonly assessed in communication with simulated or role-playing patients.
Results: Fifty schools submitted behavioral assessment forms for patient communication skills. Individuals from 47 schools were interviewed. Colleges were found to vary in the way communication skills were assessed. Assessment forms focused more on dispensing a new prescription than monitoring ongoing therapy. Providing information was emphasized more than promoting adherence. Common faculty concerns were lack of continuity and congruence of assessment across the curriculum.
Conclusions: A common understanding of the standards and procedures for determining competence is needed. Experience and assessment activities should be sequenced throughout a program to build competence.