Beyond fulfilling the core competencies: an objective structured clinical examination to assess communication and interpersonal skills in a surgical residency

Rachel Yudkowsky, Adnan Alseidi, José Cintron
Current Surgery 2004, 61 (5): 499-503

OBJECTIVE: The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) has challenged program directors to assess their residents' core competencies, including communication and interpersonal skills (CIS). We report our institution's experience using a series of standardized patient encounters in an objective structured clinical examination (OSCE) to evaluate CIS in surgical residents.

METHODS: Standardized patients rated the residents' ability to maintain a patient-centered approach across 6 challenging communication tasks. Residents received verbal feedback from the patients after each encounter and completed a survey indicating their experience and comfort with each task. Individual and group reports documented resident competency and provided aggregate information for curriculum review. Formal grades were not assigned.

RESULTS: Twenty-two residents in 2 surgical residency programs piloted the assessment. The Generalizability of the assessment was 0.81. Scores of second- and third-year residents were not significantly different. Residents found the program to be helpful and able to assess their skills.

CONCLUSIONS: The standardized patient-based OSCE is an effective method to assess communication and interpersonal skills and provides useful information for curriculum review.

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