Objective: The model of expert performance predicts that neither physicians in training nor experienced physicians will reach an expert level in communication. This study tested this hypothesis.
Methods: Seventy-one students, twenty-five residents and fourteen consultants performed a 'breaking bad news' exercise with a simulated patient. Their communication competency was assessed with the CELI instrument. Actor assessments were also obtained. The differences in communication competency between students, residents and consultants were established.
Results: The mean performance scores ranged from bad to adequate. An expert level of performance was seldom reached. Novice students scored lower than the other groups in their competency and in the actor assessment. First-year students scored lower than the consultants in their competency and in the actor assessment. No differences in performance were found between third-year students, interns, residents and consultants.
Conclusion: Students acquire a 'satisfactory' level of communication competency early in the curriculum. Communication courses in the curriculum do not enhance this level. Clinical experience has also a limited effect.
Practice implications: The learning conditions for deliberate practice must be fulfilled in medical curricula and in postgraduate training in order to provide medical students and physicians the opportunity to attain an expert level in communication. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.
- Medical education
- DOCTOR-PATIENT COMMUNICATION
- INTERVIEWING SKILLS
- CONSENSUS STATEMENT