Wang S, Shadrake L, Lyon MJ, Kim H, Yudkowsky R, Hernandez C. Standardized Patient–Based Assessment of Dermatology Resident Communication and Interpersonal Skills. JAMA Dermatol. 2015;151(3):340-342. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2014.3646
Effective physician-patient communication is essential for the delivery of quality dermatologic care. The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education recognizes the importance of physician communication and interpersonal skills (CIS) as proficiency in these skills is identified as a core competency in the Program Requirements for Graduate Medical Education in Dermatology.1 We developed and piloted a 6-station objective structured clinical examination (OSCE) using standardized patient (SP)–based assessments for use in dermatology residency programs to assess CIS.
This study was approved by the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) Institutional Review Board. Study participants were not asked to provide informed consent because a waiver of consent was granted by the UIC Institutional Review Board for this study.
Six dermatology CIS-OSCE scenarios (Table 1) were created by modifying previously published OSCEs assessing other specialties.2,3 Our CIS-OSCE was piloted with 12 UIC dermatology residents (4 postgraduate year [PGY] 2, 3 PGY-3, and 5 PGY-4). Standardized patients were trained to portray the scenarios and rate the residents’ ability to maintain a patient-centered approach across different communication tasks using the published and validated Revised UIC Communication and Interpersonal Skills (RUCIS) Scale, a 13-item instrument rated on a 4-point behaviorally anchored scale4 (where 1 indicates unacceptable; 2, minimally acceptable; 3, solid; and 4, exceptional). The scale was used as a formative assessment with no pass-fail score or predetermined proficiency level. Each station consisted of a 10-minute SP encounter, after which SPs assessed residents using the RUCIS Scale. The residents then received 10 minutes of SP feedback that focused on having residents reflect on whether their behavior had been effective or ineffective.
Individual resident scores were calculated as mean scores across RUCIS Scale items for each resident across all cases. Case scores were calculated as mean scores across RUCIS Scale items for all residents per case. Overall case scores were calculated by taking the case scores across all cases. Internal consistency reliability was measured by coefficient α. Generalizability was calculated across cases. Statistical analyses were performed using SAS, version 9.2 (SAS Institute Inc).
Results by station are shown in Table 2. Individual resident scores ranged from 2.6 to 3.2. Generalizability across cases was G = 0.87 using case scores. In regard to residents’ perception of the SP feedback sessions, 10 residents (83%) agreed or strongly agreed that the feedback was beneficial in providing insight into a patient’s interpretation and experience of the clinical encounter.
Objective structured clinical examination assessments using SPs offer several advantages when evaluating residents: standardization, objectivity, reproducibility, and direct comparison of skills across individuals.2 We found that implementation of our 6-station CIS-OSCE served as a helpful adjunctive method to test a resident’s CIS performance in common dermatology scenarios.
Limitations of our study included testing only 12 residents from 1 dermatology residency program and an uneven distribution of PGY-2, PGY-3, and PGY-4 residents, which could be variables affecting performance results. The current study assessed residents using the established RUCIS Scale.4 With the transition to the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education Dermatology Milestones Project (a joint effort of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education and the American Board of Dermatology) educational framework in all dermatology training programs, we anticipate the need for further research to determine specific Dermatology Milestones Project–based targets for resident CIS performance when using SPs.5 Targets for proficiency can be adjusted based on individual program director preference and available resources for remediation.
Standardized case scenarios provide faculty with a chance to observe a resident’s CIS that may be otherwise difficult to evaluate. The ability to directly compare resident performance allows programs to identify weaknesses and targets for curricular improvement. In addition, CIS cases portraying challenging communication situations give residents the opportunity to practice dealing with such scenarios in a safe and nonjudgmental environment. Furthermore, SPs can provide valuable feedback from a perspective not typically available to residents. Our findings suggest that SP-driven dermatology CIS-OSCEs have the potential to serve as a useful learning and assessment tool to enhance dermatology resident education.
Accepted for Publication: September 5, 2014.
Corresponding Author: Stephanie Wang, BS, Department of Dermatology, University of Illinois at Chicago, 808 S Wood St, Room 376 CME, Chicago, IL 60612 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Published Online: November 12, 2014. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2014.3646.
Author Contributions: Ms Wang and Dr Hernandez had full access to all the data in the study and take responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis.
Study concept and design: Wang, Yudkowsky, Hernandez.
Acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data: All authors.
Drafting of the manuscript: Wang, Lyon, Hernandez.
Critical revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content: All authors.
Statistical analysis: Kim, Hernandez.
Obtained funding: Hernandez.
Administrative, technical, or material support: Wang, Shadrake, Lyon, Yudkowsky.
Study supervision: Yudkowsky, Hernandez.
Conflict of Interest Disclosures: None reported.
Funding/Support: This project described was supported in part by the University of Illinois at Chicago Council for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, Curriculum and Instruction Grant and by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, National Institutes of Health, through grant UL1TR000050 (Ms Kim).
Role of the Funder/Sponsor: The funding sources had no role in the design and conduct of the study; collection, management, analysis, and interpretation of the data; preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript; and decision to submit the manuscript for publication.
Disclaimer: The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.