Teaching Cardiovascular Examination Skills: Results From a Randomized Controlled Trial

Am J Med. 1993 Oct;95(4):389-96. doi: 10.1016/0002-9343(93)90308-c.


Purpose: To evaluate the effectiveness of a teaching program designed to improve interns' cardiovascular examination skills.

Participants: All 56 interns rotating on a mandatory 4-week inpatient cardiology service during 1 academic year (July 1989-June 1990).

Methods: We randomly assigned interns to receive either an eight-session physical diagnosis course ("teaching group") taught on the cardiology-patient simulator ("Harvey") or to receive no supplemental teaching ("control group"). Before and immediately after the teaching or control period, the interns were evaluated on three preprogrammed simulations (mitral regurgitation, MR; mitral stenosis, MS; aortic regurgitation, AR). Immediately after the control or the intervention period, the interns also evaluated patient volunteers.

Results: There were no baseline differences in the interns' ability to correctly identify the disease simulations. Both the intervention and the control interns showed similar, moderate improvement in their diagnostic ability on the simulator. The intervention interns improved on MR from 42% correct to 54% correct; on MS from 8% correct to 23% correct; and on AR from 46% correct to 58% correct. The intervention and the control interns performed similarly on patient volunteers: for MR, 20% correct versus 31%; for AR, 29% correct versus 33%; and for aortic sclerosis, 64% correct versus 33%, respectively.

Conclusions: The interns had difficulty correctly identifying three valvular heart disease simulations before and after an educational intervention employing a cardiovascular-patient simulator. At no time did the proportion of correct responses exceed 64%. Our teaching intervention during internship was either of insufficient intensity or of insufficient duration to produce significant improvement in cardiovascular diagnostic skills.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Cardiology / education*
  • Clinical Competence*
  • Heart Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency / methods*
  • Manikins
  • North Carolina
  • Physical Examination / standards*