Assessing the training needs of medical students in patient information gathering

Conor Gilligan*, Sonja P. Brubacher, Martine B. Powell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
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Effective communication is at the heart of good medical practice but rates of error, patient complaints, and poor clinician job satisfaction are suggestive of room for improvement in this component of medical practice and education. 


We conducted semi-structured interviews with experienced clinicians (n = 19) and medical students (n = 20) to explore their experiences associated with teaching and learning clinical communication skills and identify targets for improvements to addressing these skills in medical curricula. 


Interviews were thematically analysed and four key themes emerged; the importance of experience, the value of role-models, the structure of a consultation, and confidence. 


The findings reinforce the need for improvement in teaching and learning communication skills in medicine, with particular opportunity to target approaches to teaching foundational skills which can establish a strong grounding before moving into more complex situations, thus preparing students for the flexibility required in medical interviewing. A second area of opportunity and need is in the engagement and training of clinicians as mentors and teachers, with the findings from both groups indicating that preparation for teaching and feedback is lacking. Medical programs can improve their teaching of communication skills and could learn from other fields s to identify applicable innovative approaches.

Original languageEnglish
Article number61
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalBMC Medical Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Mar 2020
Externally publishedYes


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