Introduction: 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. The present study aimed to identify final year students' deficiencies in conducting ward rounds in order to aid the development of appropriate teaching tools.
Methods: 45 final year students participated in a simulated ward round session with three standardised patient scenarios: (1) myocardial infarction, (2) poorly controlled diabetes, and (3) acute fever in acute myeloid leukaemia. Videotaped sessions were rated by independent raters using binary item checklists which reflected predefined learning goals in five different domains: (I) information gathering, (II) communication with patient, (III) focused physical examination, (IV) chart reviewing/ prescription/ documentation and (V) team communication.
Results: For the three patient scenarios, 64.3% of the domain-specific learning goals were attained for the domain "information gathering", 79.4% for "communication with patient", 62.6% for "focused physical examination", 48.9% for "chart reviewing/ prescription/ documentation" and 86.0% for the domain "team communication".
Conclusion: Final year students' ward round skills appear to be insufficient with a central deficit in reviewing charts and initiating appropriate prescriptions and documentation. Ward round training which eases the transition from observing ward rounds to conducting them on one's own is urgently required.