Background: It is well recognised that medical students need to acquire certain procedural skills during their medical training, however, agreement on the level and acquisition of competency to be achieved in these skills is under debate. Further, the maintenance of competency of procedural skills across medical curricula is often not considered. The purpose of this study was to identify core procedural skills competencies for Australian medical students and to establish the importance of the maintenance of such skills.
Methods: A three-round, online Delphi method was used to identify consensus on competencies of procedural skills for graduating medical students in Australia. In Round 1, an initial structured questionnaire was developed using content identified from the literature. Respondents were thirty-six experts representing medical education and multidisciplinary clinicians involved with medical students undertaking procedural skills, invited to rate their agreement on the inclusion of teaching 74 procedural skills and 11 suggested additional procedures. In Round 2, experts re-appraised the importance of 85 skills and rated the importance of maintenance of competency (i.e., Not at all important to Extremely important). In Round 3, experts rated the level of maintenance of competence (i.e., Observer, Novice, Competent, Proficient) in 46 procedures achieving consensus.
Results: Consensus, defined as > 80% agreement, was established with 46 procedural skills across ten categories: cardiovascular, diagnostic/measurement, gastrointestinal, injections/intravenous, ophthalmic/ENT, respiratory, surgical, trauma, women’s health and urogenital procedures. The procedural skills that established consensus with the highest level of agreement included cardiopulmonary resuscitation, airway management, asepsis and surgical scrub, gown and gloving. The importance for medical students to demonstrate maintenance of competency in all procedural skills was assessed on the 6-point Likert scale with a mean of 5.03.
Conclusions: The findings from the Delphi study provide critical information about procedural skills for the Clinical Practice domain of Australian medical curricula. The inclusion of experts from medical faculty and clinicians enabled opportunities to capture a range of experience independent of medical speciality. These findings demonstrate the importance of maintenance of competency of procedural skills and provides the groundwork for further investigations into monitoring medical students’ skills prior to graduation.