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Med Teach. 1993;15(4):321-5.

The effect of formal instruction in ophthalmoscopy on medical student performance.

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Department of Ophthalmology, St. Bartholomew's Medical College, London.


Ophthalmoscopy is an essential part of a complete clinical examination of a patient. However specific formal instruction in fundoscopy is rarely given to medical students. We decided to determine the value of explicit teaching of ophthalmoscopy and devised and validated a rating scale for assessing performance which was used to evaluate 29 first year clinical medical student volunteers at St. Bartholomew's Hospital Medical College, before and after formal instruction in fundoscopy. The competence of this group at ophthalmoscopy was then compared to the rest of their year (109 medical students) during the objective structured clinical end-of-year examination. Students formally instructed in ophthalmoscopy showed an improved score after instruction (from 53% to 77%). They also performed better at fundoscopy than the rest of their year (mean average score 64%), when tested 2 months later, suggesting persistence of the training effect. However as a group they performed no better than their peers at clinical skills other than ophthalmoscopy. We suggest that as fundoscopy is such an important clinical skill, medical students should be given specific teaching, preferably in their ophthalmology firm attachment, as we have shown that it results in a persistent improvement in performance.

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