A Novel Approach to Clinical Instructor Professional Development: A Multi-Session Workshop With Application of Skills in a Student Standardized Patient Exam

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Background and Purpose.

Ongoing student assessment is a critical component of effective clinical instruction. Clinical instructors (CIs), however, may lack competence and confidence in providing student feedback. CIs rarely, if ever, have the opportunity to develop and apply these skills in an authentic experience as part of a professional development course. For this reason, we developed a 4-part continuing education program for CIs that included participation in a second-year DPT student standardized patient examination (SPE).

Method/Model Description and Evaluation.

The initial 2 training sessions included sharing resources and strategies for assessing students, providing feedback, and promoting student reflection and clinical decision making (CDM). During the standardized patient examination, CIs remotely observed the student-patient encounter, then engaged with the student in a clinical decision making question and answer session, subsequently providing the student with feedback. Academic faculty from the DPT program conferred with the CI prior to the CI-student interaction. Students completed a written questionnaire regarding the CI encounter. CIs reviewed the taped feedback sessions, participated in focus group debriefings, and completed a course evaluation. One year after participating in the workshop, CIs completed a brief questionnaire, asking them to reflect on how lessons learned were carried over into the clinic.


Themes that emerged across all sources of data indicated that participation in the workshop resulted in clarifying expectations of student performance, facilitating student CDM, sharing student feedback, and promoting reflection. Lastly, the CIs universally described the workshop as a valuable learning experience.

Discussion and Conclusion.

This unique workshop model afforded CIs the opportunity to receive instruction in student assessment and feedback strategies and apply them in an authentic student-CI encounter during a comprehensive standardized patient examination (SPE). Self-assessment of the recorded session, coupled with feedback from the student, may have contributed to the positive outcomes. This workshop could be readily replicated in programs that already have SPEs in place.

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