The relationship between verbal abuse of medical students and their confidence in their clinical abilities

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PURPOSE: To explore the relationship between graduating students' self-reported experiences of verbal abuse during medical school and their confidence in their clinical skills. METHOD: Using data from the Association of American Medical Colleges Medical School Graduation Questionnaire and its Matriculating Student Questionnaire, the author determined the statistical relationships between students' experiences of verbal abuse and their levels of confidence upon graduating medical school. The author controlled for sex, race, age, academic ability (as measured by MCAT scores), and level of assuredness (as measured by levels of confidence upon matriculation). RESULTS: The relationship between verbal abuse and lower levels of confidence was significant for all demographic groups and for students with high and low abilities and high and low levels of assuredness. Although the statistical analysis does not prove causation between verbal abuse and lower confidence, the findings show a correlation between the two. CONCLUSION: Medical schools must understand that verbal abuse correlates with students' confidence, regardless of their sex, race, age, or levels of ability and assuredness. School policies must address the problem of verbal abuse of students to avoid lowering students' self-confidence.

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