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Med Educ Online. 2010 Aug 6;15. doi: 10.3402/meo.v15i0.5295.

Ready or not? Expectations of faculty and medical students for clinical skills preparation for clerkships.

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  • 1Office of the Dean, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA, USA. maxter@u.washington.edu



Preclerkship clinical-skills training has received increasing attention as a foundational preparation for clerkships. Expectations among medical students and faculty regarding the clinical skills and level of skill mastery needed for starting clerkships are unknown. Medical students, faculty teaching in the preclinical setting, and clinical clerkship faculty may have differing expectations of students entering clerkships. If students' expectations differ from faculty expectations, students may experience anxiety. Alternately, congruent expectations among students and faculty may facilitate integrated and seamless student transitions to clerkships.


To assess the congruence of expectations among preclerkship faculty, clerkship faculty, and medical students for the clinical skills and appropriate level of clinical-skills preparation needed to begin clerkships.


Investigators surveyed preclinical faculty, clerkship faculty, and medical students early in their basic clerkships at a North American medical school that focuses on preclerkship clinical-skills development. Survey questions assessed expectations for the appropriate level of preparation in basic and advanced clinical skills for students entering clerkships.


Preclinical faculty and students had higher expectations than clerkship faculty for degree of preparation in most basic skills. Students had higher expectations than both faculty groups for advanced skills preparation.


Preclinical faculty, clerkship faculty, and medical students appear to have different expectations of clinical-skills training needed for clerkships. As American medical schools increasingly introduce clinical-skills training prior to clerkships, more attention to alignment, communication, and integration between preclinical and clerkship faculty will be important to establish common curricular agendas and increase integration of student learning. Clarification of skills expectations may also alleviate student anxiety about clerkships and enhance their learning.


bedside teaching; clerkships; clinical skills; curriculum; preclinical medical education

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