Medical students in their final six months of training: progress in self-perceived clinical competence, and relationship between experience and confidence in practical skills

Singapore Med J. 2007 Nov;48(11):1018-27.


Introduction: We evaluated the progress in the self-perceived competence of medical students in a range of common clinical, practical and personal skills, in their final six months of training.

Methods: The study was conducted on 65 final-year medical students undertaking their senior clerkship training at International Medical University, Malaysia. Questionnaire surveys were conducted at the beginning and the end of the six-month period, with 44 items covering clinical, practical, personal skills and readiness to work. Correlations were performed for experience and self-perceived competence, with the respective skills.

Results: 64 students returned the first survey and 63 returned the second survey. When the two survey results were compared, significant increases were found in self-perceived competence for the majority of the skills examined. The items with no significant improvement were divided into those which the students were already proficient in before senior clerkship, and those in which experience and confidence remained poor at the end of training. There were significant, but moderate, correlations between the experience and confidence of all common practical skills (correlation coefficients: 0.348-0.522, p-value is less than 0.001 for all items). At the end of training, students were, in general, more prepared to work as house officers (mean rating in the first survey: 3.05, second survey: 3.97, p-value is less than 0.001).

Conclusion: Significant progresses in clinical experience and confidence can be observed in the final stages of medical training. The findings of inadequate improvements in some skills call for dedicated training sessions and strengthening of on-site supervision.

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Clerkship*
  • Clinical Competence*
  • Curriculum
  • Education, Medical*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency
  • Malaysia
  • Self Concept*
  • Students, Medical / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires