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GMS J Med Educ. 2017 May 15;34(2):Doc20. doi: 10.3205/zma001097. eCollection 2017.

FAMULATUR PLUS - A successful model for improving students' physical examination skills?

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University Hospital Ulm, Department of Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy, Medical Psychology, Ulm, Germany.
University Hospital Ulm, Department for Cardiac Anesthesiology, Ulm, Germany.
University of Ulm, Office of the Dean of Medical Studies, Ulm, Germany.


in English, German

Introduction/Project description: Several studies have revealed insufficient physical examination skills among medical students, both with regard to the completeness of the physical examination and the accuracy of the techniques used. FAMULATUR PLUS was developed in response to these findings. As part of this practice-oriented instructional intervention, physical examination skills should be taught through examination seminars and problem-oriented learning approaches. In order to ensure practical relevance, all courses are integrated into a 30-day clinical traineeship in the surgery or internal medicine department of a hospital (FAMULATUR PLUS). Research question: Does participation in the FAMULATUR PLUS project lead to a more optimistic self-assessment of examination skills and/or improved performance of the physical examination? Methodology: A total of 49 medical students participated in the study. The inclusion criteria were as follows: enrollment in the clinical studies element of their degree program at the University of Ulm and completion of the university course in internal medicine examinations. Based on their personal preferences, students were assigned to either the intervention (surgery/internal medicine; n=24) or the control group (internal medicine; n=25). All students completed a self-assessment of their physical examination skills in the form of a questionnaire. However, practical examination skills were only assessed in the students in the intervention group. These students were asked to carry out a general physical examination of the simulation patient, which was recorded and evaluated in a standardized manner. In both instances, data collection was carried out prior to and after the intervention. Results: The scores arising from the student self-assessment in the intervention (IG) and control groups (CG) improves significantly in the pre-post comparison, with average scores increasing from 3.83 (±0.72; IG) and 3.54 (±0.37; CG) to 1.92 (±0.65; IG) and 3.23 (±0.73; CG). The general physical examination, which was only assessed among the students in the intervention group, was performed more completely after the instructional intervention than prior to it. Discussion: On the basis of the data collected, it can be deduced that the FAMULATUR PLUS course has a positive effect on the self-assessment of medical students with regard to their physical examination skills. The validity of this conclusion is limited by the small sample size. In addition, it remains unclear whether a more positive self-assessment correlates with an objective improvement in physical examination skills.


clinical skills; medical education; physical examination; practical training

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