Medical College of Wisconsin
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Medical student communication skills and specialty choice. Acad Psychiatry 2015 Jun;39(3):275-9



Pubmed ID




Scopus ID

2-s2.0-84929079624   2 Citations


OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to determine if communication skills differ for medical students entering person or technique-oriented specialties.

METHODS: Communication ratings by clerkship preceptors on an institutionally required end of clerkship medical student performance evaluation (SPE) form were compiled for 2011/2012 academic year (Class of 2013). M3 clerkships and the Class of 2013 match appointments were categorized as person or technique-oriented clerkships/specialties. Mean differences in SPE communication scores were determined by analyses of variance (ANOVA) and independent t tests. Score associations were determined by Pearson correlations. Inter-item reliability was reported with Cronbach alpha.

RESULTS: The Class of 2013 match appointments were as follows: person-oriented (N = 91) and technique-oriented (N = 91) residency specialties. There was no significant difference in mean communication scores for medical students who entered person-oriented (mean 7.8, SD 0.4) versus technique-oriented (mean 7.9, SD 0.4) specialties (p = 0.258) or for person-oriented clerkship (mean 7.8, SD 0.4) versus technique-oriented clerkship (mean 7.9, SD 0.6) ratings for medical students who matched into person-oriented specialties (p = 0.124). Medical students who matched into technique-oriented specialties (mean 8.1, SD 0.5) received significantly higher (p = 0.001) communication ratings as compared with those matching into person-oriented specialties (mean 7.8, SD 0.5) from technique-oriented clerkships.

CONCLUSIONS: Communication with patients and families is a complex constellation of specific abilities that appear to be influenced by the rater's specialty. Further study is needed to determine if technique-oriented specialties communication skill rating criteria differ from those used by raters from person-oriented specialties.

Author List

Ping Tsao CI, Simpson D, Treat R


Robert W. Treat PhD Associate Professor in the Academic Affairs department at Medical College of Wisconsin

MESH terms used to index this publication - Major topics in bold

Career Choice
Clinical Clerkship
Employee Performance Appraisal
Professional-Patient Relations
Students, Medical
Young Adult