Objectives: Ward rounds are an essential activity for doctors in hospital settings and represent complex tasks requiring not only medical knowledge but also communication skills, clinical technical skills, patient management skills and team-work skills. However, although the need for ward round training is emphasized in the published literature, there are currently no reports of ward round training in a simulated setting with standardized patients.
Methods: 45 final year students participated in a ward round training session lasting two hours with three standardized patient scenarios and role-plays. Final year students assumed the role of either doctor, nurse or final year student with role-specific instructions and provided each other with peer-feedback during the training session. Training was assessed using final year student focus groups and semi-structured interviews of standardized patients. Written protocols of the focus group as well as the interviews of standardized patients were content analysed.
Results: In the course of five focus groups, 204 individual statements were gathered from participating final year students. Ward round training proved to be a feasible tool, well accepted by final year students. It was seen to offer a valuable opportunity for reflection on the processes of ward rounds, important relevant feedback from standardized patients, peer group and tutors. Semi-structured standardized patient interviews yielded 17 central comments indicating that ward rounds are a novel and exciting experience for standardized patients.
Conclusion: Ward round training with standardized patients is greatly appreciated by final year students and is viewed as an important part of their education, easing the transition from observing ward rounds to conducting them on their own.