Competency Based Clinical Shoulder Examination Training Improves Physical Exam, Confidence, and Knowledge in Common Shoulder Conditions

J Gen Intern Med. 2017 Nov;32(11):1261-1265. doi: 10.1007/s11606-017-4143-6. Epub 2017 Aug 7.


Background: Deficiencies in musculoskeletal knowledge are reported at every stage of learning. Medical programs are looking for effective ways to incorporate competency-based training into musculoskeletal education.

Aim: To evaluate the impact of bedside feedback on learner's shoulder examination skills, confidence, and knowledge of common shoulder conditions.

Setting: Four-week musculoskeletal clinic rotation.

Participants: UCSD third year medical students and internal medicine residents.

Program description: Learners completed three baseline evaluations: videotaped shoulder examination, attitude survey, and knowledge test. During the 4-week intervention learners received bedside observation and feedback from musculoskeletal experts while evaluating patients with shoulder conditions. Post-intervention learners repeated the three assessments.

Program evaluation: Eighty-nine learners participated. In the primary outcome measure evaluating the pre/post videotaped shoulder examination, significant improvement was seen in 21 of 23 shoulder examination maneuvers. Secondary outcomes include changes in learner confidence and knowledge. Greatest gains in learner confidence were seen in performing the shoulder examination (61.5% improvement) and performing injections (97.1% improvement). Knowledge improved significantly in all categories including anatomy/examination interpretation, diagnosis, and procedures.

Discussion: Direct observation and feedback during clinical evaluation of patients with shoulder pain improves shoulder examination competency, provider confidence, and knowledge of common shoulder conditions.

Keywords: Competency-based medical education; Direct observation; Musculoskeletal; Primary care; Shoulder examination.

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence / standards*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / diagnosis
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / therapy
  • Physical Examination / methods
  • Physical Examination / standards*
  • Shoulder / pathology
  • Shoulder Pain / diagnosis*
  • Shoulder Pain / therapy
  • Students, Medical*