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Curr Surg. 2004 Sep-Oct;61(5):499-503.

Beyond fulfilling the core competencies: an objective structured clinical examination to assess communication and interpersonal skills in a surgical residency.

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  • 1Department of Medical Education, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois 60612, USA.



The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) has challenged program directors to assess their residents' core competencies, including communication and interpersonal skills (CIS). We report our institution's experience using a series of standardized patient encounters in an objective structured clinical examination (OSCE) to evaluate CIS in surgical residents.


Standardized patients rated the residents' ability to maintain a patient-centered approach across 6 challenging communication tasks. Residents received verbal feedback from the patients after each encounter and completed a survey indicating their experience and comfort with each task. Individual and group reports documented resident competency and provided aggregate information for curriculum review. Formal grades were not assigned.


Twenty-two residents in 2 surgical residency programs piloted the assessment. The Generalizability of the assessment was 0.81. Scores of second- and third-year residents were not significantly different. Residents found the program to be helpful and able to assess their skills.


The standardized patient-based OSCE is an effective method to assess communication and interpersonal skills and provides useful information for curriculum review.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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