Kendrick, T. and Freeling, P.
A communication skills course for preclinical students: evaluation of general practice based teaching using group methods
Medical Education, 27, (3), .
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Teaching preclinical medical students about doctor-patient communication gives them an opportunity to develop their interviewing skills prior to their having to elicit lists of symptoms in their clinical years. General practitioners should be among the more efficient interviewers in clinical medicine and therefore able to make important contributions to the teaching of interviewing skills. This paper describes the aims, objectives and methods of the preclinical communications skills course at St George's Hospital Medical School. The contribution of the Division of General Practice and Primary Care to the teaching of interviewing skills in the preclinical course has been evaluated using rapid group methods. Students were asked to identify examples of specific interviewing behaviours in videotaped general practice consultations, and to judge whether the behaviours were helpful or unhelpful in eliciting relevant information from the patient. Students who had been given experience in interviewing patients in small groups led by general practitioners identified significantly more helpful and unhelpful interviewing behaviours in the taped consultations than students who had not received the small-group teaching. Students rated the teaching as relevant and effective in terms of giving insights into the interviewing skills they needed to develop. Group methods of evaluation such as these might prove useful to other medical schools with class sizes of 150 students or more.
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