Are fourth-year medical students effective teachers of the physical examination to first-year medical students?

Steven A. Haist, John F. Wilson, Sue E. Fosson, Nancy L. Brigham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


To determine if fourth-year medical students are as effective as faculty in teaching the physical examination to first-year medical students. DESIGN: Stratified randomization of the first-year students. SETTING: A public medical school. PARTICIPANTS: All 100 first-year medical students in one medical school class were randomly assigned (controlling for gender) to either a faculty or a fourth-year student preceptor for the Physical Examination Module. MAIN RESULTS: The first-year students of faculty preceptors scored no differently on the written examination than the students of the fourth-year medical student preceptors (82.8% vs 80.3%, p = .09) and no differently on a standardized patient practical examination (95.5% vs 95.4%, p = .92). Also, the first-year students rated the two groups of preceptors similarly on an evaluation form, with faculty rated higher on six items and the student preceptors rated higher on six items (all p > .10). The fourth-year student preceptors rated the experience favorably. CONCLUSIONS: Fourth-year medical students were as successful as faculty in teaching first- year medical students the physical examination as measured by first-year student's performances on objective measures and ratings of teaching effectiveness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)177-181
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of General Internal Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1997

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Supported in part by the Preparing Physicians for the Future Grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.


  • education
  • physical examination
  • preceptors
  • small-group teaching
  • teaching

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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