Background: The ability to communicate effectively with patients is an essential element of a physician's clinical expertise.
Method: As part of the USMLE Step 2 Clinical Skills exam, standardized patients (SPs) provided ratings of communication and interpersonal skills (CIS) along three dimensions. Assessment data from a one-year (2006) cohort of graduates of international medical schools (IMGs) were analyzed and psychometric characteristics of the CIS measures are described.
Results: Female and native English-speaking physicians received slightly higher CIS ratings than did males and examinees of other language backgrounds across all dimensions. However, no significant examinee by SP gender interaction effect was detected. Correlations with other measures support the construct validity of the CIS scale.
Conclusions: Results of this preliminary study indicate that properly trained SPs can provide accurate and defensible ratings of IMGs' communication and interpersonal skills.