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Adv Med Educ Pract. 2020 Feb 24;11:163-169. doi: 10.2147/AMEP.S234856. eCollection 2020.

Self-Perceived Confidence of Medical Students Communicating with Pediatric Patients in a 7-Week Pediatric Placement: A Pilot Survey.

Author information

Department of Medicine, Imperial College London, London, UK.
Department of Pediatrics, Imperial College London, London, UK.



Pediatrics is a specialty reserved until later stages of the medical curriculum, with many students receiving early exposure via volunteering opportunities. Self-perceived confidence across the pediatric curriculum is crucial, due to limited clinical exposure before qualification. We aimed to assess the impact of a 7-week pediatric placement on medical students' self-perceived confidence and factors that influenced self-perceived confidence.


We conducted a prospective pilot survey on three cohorts of fifth-year students undertaking pediatric placements in 2018. A two-part questionnaire was distributed before and after the placement, evaluating the level of self-confidence in clinical skills using a 10-point scale.


Of 103 students, 62 (60%) students completed both questionnaires. Of these, 34 (55%) students reported previous professional experiences with children. There was a significant increase in self-reported confidence scores across ten questions before (mean 5.4 [IQR 4.1-6.1]) and after the placement (7.6 [6.6-8.5], p<0.0001). Subgroup analyses between students with prior professional experience with children and those without revealed a significant difference in preplacement confidence in four pediatric practices: verbal communication, physical engagement, asking sensitive or probing questions, and explaining medical management (p<0.05). There was no significant difference in postplacement confidence between these two groups.


Medical students with prior professional experience with children reported higher self-confidence in interacting with pediatric patients prior to placement. However, a large and consistent increase in confidence across the cohort was such that there were no measurable differences at exit. This study supports the value of undergraduate pediatric training in promoting student self-confidence in managing pediatric clinical issues.


medical education; medical students; pediatrics; self-confidence

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare that the manuscript was recently presented as a poster presentation at Developing Excellence in Medical Education Conference (DEMEC) 2019. There are no other conflicts of interest. The authors alone are responsible for the content and writing of this article.

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