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September 3, 2003

Raising the Passing Grade for Studies of Medical Education

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliation: Dr Lurie is Senior Editor, JAMA.

JAMA. 2003;290(9):1210-1212. doi:10.1001/jama.290.9.1210

Physicians spend much of their time listening and responding to patients' concerns. Studies have found, however, that clinicians' interpersonal skills are not always as good as their patients might wish.1,2 In response, several medical organizations have called for improved training and competence in communication skills. The Association of American Medical Colleges, for instance, has included "communication in medicine" as a central aspect of its Medical Schools Outcomes Project, which is intended to guide curricula in all US medical schools.3 Beginning in 2004, the National Board of Medical Examiners will require all US medical students to travel to a testing center for an evaluation of their clinical skills, including communication.4 The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education now requires all US residency programs to provide instruction in "interpersonal and communication skills."5 By the time this year's class of entering medical students will have completed their residencies, they may find that their interpersonal skills will be subject to lifelong examination. In a recent address to the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), Baird6 stated that "an expanded assessment of interpersonal and communication skills would be a useful new endeavor for ABMS."

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