The views of senior students and young doctors of their training in a skills laboratory

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The study was carried out in the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (FMHS), United Arab Emirates (UAE) University, UAE, where a skills laboratory was set up in 1988 to train medical students in clinical skills before they use such skills on patients. The students learn clinical skills using simulated patients, models and mannequins. The training starts in the first year of the 6-year undergraduate curriculum and continues until the end of the fourth year, after which students rotate through the clinical specialties. This study sought to identify: (1) the views of senior clerks (sixth year) and interns (first postgraduate year) regarding the clinical skills training in the skills laboratory (SKL) during the early years of the medical curriculum; (2) the differences in views between senior clerks and interns; (3) the differences in views between women and men students. Students' views about communication, interviewing, physical examination, therapeutic, diagnostic and laboratory skills were investigated. The results indicated that prior training in clinical skills was helpful to the senior clerks and the interns. Statistically significant differences in opinion were noted between the senior clerks and the interns, the interns being more positive about the usefulness of the SKL training compared with learning clinical skills directly on patients. There was no difference between men and women students except that women students were not comfortable with allowing their peers to examine any part of their bodies. The findings of the study have direct implications for the SKL programme.

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