Clerkship enhancement of interpersonal skills

Kenneth W. Burchard, Pamela A. Rowland, Norman B. Berman, Paul D. Hanissian, Patricia A. Carney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: The purpose of this research was to determine if students improve interpersonal skills as the third year progresses despite the lack of any specific curriculum or teaching methods. Methods: Third-year students completed 1 of 3 16-week sequential clerkship blocks. Each student completed a clinical performance examination before and after clerkship consisting of a videotaped standardized patient interview and physical examination. Videotapes were randomly assigned to communication faculty for evaluation. Results: Although the majority (73%) of students improved during their block, 17% showed no improvement, and 12% had deficient interpersonal skills after their clerkship. Conclusions: Despite the lack of skill-directed curriculum, most medical students showed improved interpersonal skill performance after a 16-week clerkship. Developing an interpersonal curriculum for all third-year students may not be necessary. Because faculty are being asked to do more with less, we believe efforts focused on individual students during the third year will be more productive.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)643-646
Number of pages4
JournalAmerican journal of surgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Clerkship
  • Communication skills
  • Competency
  • Interpersonal skills

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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