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Year : 2004  |  Volume : 17  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 35-41

Teaching Medical Students What They Think They Already Know

1 Department of Medical Sociology, Faculty of Health Sciences, Ben-Gurion University, Israel
2 Department of Clinical Biochemistry, Faculty of Health Sciences, Ben-Gurion University, Israel
3 Department of Health Management, Faculty of Health Sciences, Ben-Gurion University, Israel

Correspondence Address:
Judith Fadlon
POB 905 Ramat Chen, Ramat Gan 52109
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

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Objectives: To discuss the problems encountered teaching interviewing skills to first year medical students and describe their responses to a structured workshop in interviewing skills. Methods: Focus groups and a short evaluation questionnaire filled in by 56 first year medical students before and after a workshop in interviewing skills were used. Results: All students evaluated their skills very highly prior to the workshop. After participating in the workshop, students evaluated their skills as lower than before. Discussion: When communication skills are taught in an informal, unstructured manner, medical students might view this knowledge as unspecialized, repetitive, and even boring. It is suggested that employing a structured model for teaching doctor-patient communication skills awards psycho-social issues the status of formal knowledge. This can lead to students viewing communication skills as a relevant and consistent body of knowledge. Introducing a structured model can overcome two kinds of problems: overconfident students are formally introduced to unique aspects of medical interviewing, whilst those who lack confidence are offered a lifeline in the form of a structured model. Identifying possible sources of resistance to communications training has important implications for medical education as it allows for appropriate course planning and follow up.

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