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Hosp Pediatr. 2013 Apr;3(2):139-43.

When and how pediatric history and physical diagnosis are taught in medical school: a survey of pediatric clerkship directors.

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Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, 3324 Burnet Ave, Cincinnati, OH 45229, USA.



[corrected] History and physical diagnosis skills (HPDS) are required curriculum in medical schools (MS) with pediatric HPDS (PHPDS) necessitating instruction in addition to adult HPDS. Perceived deficiencies in these skills on the pediatric clerkship prompted investigation of when and how other MS taught PHPDS. The concern of whether medical students are adequately taught PHPDS needed to be addressed.


With the use of the Council on Medical Student Education in Pediatrics listserv, pediatric clerkship directors from 129 US, 15 Canadian, and 2 Puerto Rican MS were contacted via e-mail to complete an anonymous online questionnaire, focused on MS demographics, PHPDS timing, teaching methods, and barriers.


Seventy-two (49%) of 146 MS responded to the survey; 18.1% of MS responders did not offer PHPDS in the first 2 years. Methodologies used to educate students included didactic lectures, physician shadowing, hands-on with patients, pairing with preceptor, instructional video, and examination of newborns. Each teaching method had < 3 hours dedicated to medical students during their first 2 years at a majority of the MS. Of the responders, 85.1% concurred that medical students should be exposed to PHPDS before starting the clerkship. Barriers to providing PHPDS included MS time allotment, preceptor availability, and total number of students to accommodate.


This study demonstrated striking variability among MS in how and when medical students were taught PHPDS. Clarification of the role of PHPDS instruction in preclinical years and standardized effective approaches to PHPDS instruction are both needed so that MS curriculum optimizes physician training.

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