Recovering Critical Curriculum: Hypothesis-Driven Physical Examination as a Method to Increase Clinical Skills Teaching When Bedside Teaching Remains Limited

Authors: John M. Cunningham, MD, Jennifer E. Adams, MD


Medical students have re-entered their clinical training in a milieu that is vastly different from the one familiar to us. The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic shifted vital curriculum into the virtual setting; however, some aspects of clinical education are immobile because they are rooted to one thing: bedside teaching. Physical examination (PE) is one such example. The atrophy of PE skills leads to the increased cost of care and diagnostic error, making the teaching of these skills indispensable.1 The need to conserve personal protective equipment and limitations on student–patient interactions decrease learner time at the bedside. The pandemic also placed limitations on radiographic test ordering because of the increased time required to sterilize equipment and rooms.

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