Improving ward round skills

Med Teach. 2014 Sep;36(9):783-8. doi: 10.3109/0142159X.2014.909585. Epub 2014 May 7.


Background: Ward rounds represent an important task in clinical settings. Despite their importance, students show substantial deficits in ward round competencies (e.g. physical examination, drug prescription, documentation). Previously reported teaching methods such as ward round training with standardized patients or educational wards, however, are time-consuming and expensive.

Aims: To assess the effects of a structured on-ward supervision program for final-year students with specially trained supervising doctors focusing on ward round competencies.

Method: A total of 36 medical students were randomly assigned to an intervention group (IG) and a control group (CG). During an eight-week-long training course, the intervention group (IG; n = 18) received structured ward round training while the control group (CG; n = 18) received on-ward training regarding how to take patient histories and perform physical examinations. Ward round competencies were assessed using simulated ward round scenarios with objective checklist ratings and standardized patient ratings.

Results: The IG achieved significantly more predefined learning goals compared to the CG. Standardized patient ratings did not differ significantly between groups.

Conclusions: RESULTS provide evidence that the presented program is a feasible and efficient tool for teaching ward round skills at the bedside. Further research should focus on cost effectiveness compared to alternative models.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Clinical Competence*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internal Medicine / education*
  • Learning
  • Male
  • Self Efficacy
  • Students, Medical*
  • Teaching Rounds / organization & administration*