Council on Medical Student Education in Pediatrics


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COMSEP Meeting in Ottawa, ON

Poster Presentation:

Development of structured tool to evaluate communication skills with pediatric patients

Shannon S. Leung,Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center,Boston,MA,Mary E. Brown,Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center,Boston,MA


Pediatric patients generally do not use or comprehend medical terminology, but medical students frequently use medical terms during clinical conversations.  No structured tool is currently available to assess the accuracy of a medical student’s interpretation and synthesis of the patient’s words into medical terminology.


Develop a structured tool to assess medical students’ ability to translate a patient’s history of present illness from a child’s words to medical terminology.


There were a total of 38 pediatric participants:  23 attendings and 15 residents of all training levels.  More medical terms were used among residents compared to attendings.  Residents used more medical terms than attendings, and attendings’ summaries were more concise.  Medical nouns utilized were consistent, but qualifiers and degree of conciseness were varied among attendings.


Future medical students will summarize the same cases at the start and end of their pediatric clerkship; their answers will be compared to the standardized tool’s answers established from this project.  The strength of this tool is that it can be used as a self-assessment of students’ medical term use as well as a secondary benefit of their clinical assessment.  It can help guide the teaching of medical word use and clinical assessment skills.  The information that the students learn from this assessment and the skills developed can be applied to other clinical cases.  This standardized tool will be distributed and collected electronically so that it can be easily maintained.  The cases are not specific to any institution.