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J Surg Res. 2007 Jun 1;140(1):139-48. Epub 2007 Apr 6.

Reliability and usefulness of clinical encounter cards for a third-year surgical clerkship.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota 55905, USA.



Third-year medical students (MS3) were given clinical encounter cards (CECs) to stimulate feedback during their surgery clerkship. This study analyzes the feedback given on their clinical performance using CECs.


Two hundred one students enrolled in the 12-week surgery clerkship were given CECs. Each card contained the chief focus of the encounter, which was rated on a six-point Likert scale. The CECs were analyzed to determine if they provided reliable formative information, identified marginal performances, and identified differences between raters, settings, rotations, and aspects of clinical performance evaluated.


Seven thousand three hundred eight CECs were submitted from 201 students. The CECs were completed most often (65%) in the inpatient setting. Technical skills were evaluated on 49% of CECs, history/physical examinations on 40%, and case presentations on 30%. There were comments written on half of the CECs and 89% of these were strictly positive. Women (52.8%) and faculty (63.3%) were more likely to provide written comments. The students were most likely to seek feedback from the interns and faculty who gave significantly higher ratings. The Cronbach-alpha reliability coefficient was 0.69, based on 12 raters per student. There was a significant positive correlation (P < 0.05) between the CEC composite rating and the clinical performance rating (r = 0.356), NBME score (r = 0.258), and the final grade (r = 0.250).


The implementation of CECs in a surgery clerkship provided a large quantity of positive feedback. The quality was limited because there were minimal recommendations for improvement and they were a poor predictor of overall clinical performance.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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