Original Article

Objective Structured Clinical Examination–Based Teaching of the Musculoskeletal Examination

Authors: Trishul Siddharthan, MD, Sarita Soares, MD, Hilary H. Wang, MD, Stephen R. Holt, MD, MS


Objectives: Musculoskeletal complaints are the most common presenting illnesses in primary care settings, yet physicians often are underprepared to manage such complaints. We sought to create and evaluate an objective structured clinical examination (OSCE)–based musculoskeletal workshop designed to simultaneously educate medical students and internal medicine residents, enlisting volunteer medical students as standardized patients (SPs).

Methods: The setting for the study was the Yale Primary Care Residency Program. A comprehensive OSCE-based musculoskeletal workshop series was created, consisting of standalone workshops with evidence-based interactive lectures followed by OSCE stations. At each station, residents are evaluated on physical examination skills, differential diagnosis, and therapeutic plan. We assessed the impact of exposure to the neck/back pain workshop using written knowledge and clinical skills tests (maximum score 32) among both residents and medical students 6 months after exposure.

Results: A convenience sample of 13 residents exposed to the neck/back pain workshop was compared with 17 unexposed residents. Six months after exposure to the workshop, exposed residents, compared with unexposed residents, performed significantly better on a written knowledge test (score 8.6 vs 6.8, P = 0.005) and the clinical skills test (score 20.9 vs 17.1, P = 0.007). Similarly, medical student SPs performed significantly better on the clinical skills test (17.0 vs 12.0, P = 0.02), compared with the control students.

Conclusions: Our novel OSCE-based musculoskeletal workshop, which enlists medical students to serve as SPs, engendered sustainable improvements in knowledge and clinical skills among both residents and participating students, thereby offering an innovative approach to simultaneously meeting both undergraduate and graduate medical education needs.

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