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Med Educ. 2008 Jan;42(1):104-12. Epub 2007 Nov 28.

Approaches to medical student remediation after a comprehensive clinical skills examination.

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Department of Medicine, University of California-San Francisco, 533 Parnassus Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA.



Most US medical schools conduct comprehensive clinical skills assessments during Years 3 and 4. This study explores strategies used to identify and remediate students who perform poorly on these assessments.


In the academic year 2005-06, we conducted 33 semi-structured interviews with individuals responsible for standard setting in and remediation after their schools' comprehensive clinical skills assessments. We coded interviews to identify major themes.


Prior to remediation, some schools employed a 'verification' step to ensure the accuracy of the failing score or need for remediation. Participants described a remediation process that included some or all of 3 steps. Firstly, students' specific learning deficits were diagnosed. Next, students participated in remedial activities such as performance review sessions or practice with standardised or actual patients. Lastly, students were re-tested, usually with a shorter, more formative examination. All participants reported using a diagnostic step, most offered or required remedial activities and many re-tested, although schools varied in the emphasis placed on each step. Many participants cited the individualised attention students received from remediation faculty staff as a strength of their approach, although they raised concerns about the substantial time demands placed on remediation faculty. Most respondents reported some dissatisfaction with their school's remediation process, particularly uncertainty about efficacy or rigour.


Schools vary in the intensity and scope of remediation offered to students who perform poorly on clinical skills assessments. Although many schools invest significant resources in remediation, the effect of these efforts on students' subsequent clinical performance is unknown.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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