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J Am Geriatr Soc. 2008 Sep;56(9):1730-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.2008.01860.x. Epub 2008 Aug 21.

Development and implementation of an objective structured clinical examination to provide formative feedback on communication and interpersonal skills in geriatric training.

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  • 1Medical Department, Hebrew Senior Life, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.


Teaching and assessment of communication and interpersonal skills, one of the American Council for Graduate Medical Education-designated core competencies, is an important but difficult task in the training of physicians. Assessment of trainees offers an opportunity to provide explicit feedback on their skills and encourages learning. This article describes a pilot study in which clinician-educators affiliated with the geriatrics training programs at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Boston University Medical Center designed and piloted a novel Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) to assess the communication and interpersonal skills of medical, dental, and geriatric psychiatry fellows. The OSCE consisted of three stations where geriatricians and standardized patients evaluated candidates using specifically designed checklists and an abbreviated version of the Master Interview Rating Scale. Communication skills were assessed through performance of specific "real life" clinical tasks, such as obtaining a medical history, explaining a diagnosis and prognosis, giving therapeutic instructions, and counseling. Interpersonal skills were assessed through the effect of the communication between doctor and standardized patient on fostering trust, relieving anxiety, and establishing a therapeutic relationship. This pilot study demonstrated that the OSCE format of assessment provides a valid means of evaluating the communication and interpersonal skills of interdisciplinary geriatric trainees and provides a valuable forum for formative assessment and feedback. Given that geriatricians and non geriatricians involved in elder care both need communication and interpersonal skills, this novel OSCE can be used for assessment of these skills in trainees in diverse healthcare subspecialties.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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