Medical student acquisition and retention of communication and interviewing skills

J Med Educ. 1981 Jul;56(7):572-9. doi: 10.1097/00001888-198107000-00005.


Medical students' interpersonal and communication skills were assessed over the course of their first two years of medical training. During the first year, students participated in a nine-week course designed to develop effective interviewing skills. On the average, students improved significantly on two standardized measures of communication and discrimination skills as a result of this training. Upon completion of this course, the students conducted a videotaped interview with "screened patients," persons trained in interviewing skills. Evaluation of these videotapes indicated a level of performance commensurate with performance on the written measures. A similar interview was conducted about one year after the first " screened patient" interview to assess retention of these skills. Results of the first and second video analyses indicated a significant decline in student process-oriented skills. These findings indicate that effective interviewing and communication skills can be not only learned but also forgotten.

MeSH terms

  • Communication*
  • Education, Medical*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic*
  • Male
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Students, Medical / psychology*