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GMS Z Med Ausbild. 2012;29(1):Doc06. doi: 10.3205/zma000776. Epub 2012 Feb 15.

Implementation of the interdisciplinary curriculum Teaching and Assessing Communicative Competence in the fourth academic year of medical studies (CoMeD).

[Article in English, German]

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University Düsseldorf, Medical Faculty, Institute of General Practice, Düsseldorf, Germany.



Implementation of a longitudinal curriculum for training in advanced communications skills represents an unmet need in most German medical faculties, especially in the 4rth and 5th years of medical studies. The CoMeD project (communication in medical education Düsseldorf) attempted to establish an interdisciplinary program to teach and to assess communicative competence in the 4th academic year. In this paper, we describe the development of the project and report results of its evaluation by medical students.


Teaching objectives and lesson formats were developed in a multistage process. A teaching program for simulated patients (SP) was built up and continuous lecturer trainings were estabilshed. Several clinical disciplines co-operated for the purpose of integrating the communication training into the pre-existing clinical teaching curriculum. The CoMeD project was evaluated using feedback-forms after each course.


Until now, six training units for especially challenging communication tasks like "dealing with aggression" or "breaking bad news" were implemented, each unit connected with a preliminary tutorial or e-learning course. An OSCE (objective structured clinical examination) with 4 stations was introduced. The students' evaluation of the six CoMeD training units showed the top or second-best rating in more than 80% of the answers.


Introducing an interdisciplinary communication training and a corresponding OSCE into the 4th year medical curriculum is feasible. Embedding communication teaching in a clinical context and involvement of clinicians as lecturers seem to be important factors for ensuring practical relevance and achieving high acceptance by medical students.


communication; curriculum development; medical education; medical interview; simulated patients

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