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BACKGROUND: Medical schools increasingly place emphasis on preparing students to perform routine, ethically important clinical activities with sensitivity and acumen. A method for evaluating students skills in obtaining informed consent that was created at our institution is described. METHODS: Formal assessment of medical students' professional attitudes, values, and ethics skills occurs in the context of three required and developmentally attuned comprehensive examinations. A videotaped station tested senior medical students' ability to obtain informed consent from a standardized patient who expresses concern about undergoing cardiac catheterization. Two checklists were completed by the patient. Videotapes were reviewed by a faculty member, and students' reactions to the assessment experience were documented. RESULTS: Seventy-one senior students participated, and all performed well. Mean scores of 6.3 out of 7 (range 5 to 7, SD 5 0.5) on the informed consent checklist and 8.7 out of 9 (range 6 to 9, SD 5 0.5) on the communication skills checklist were obtained. Students endorsed the importance of the skills tested. CONCLUSIONS: This method of examining medical students' abilities to obtain informed consent has several positive features and holds promise as an ethics competence assessment tool. Am J Surg. 1999;178:351—355. \xa9 1999 by Excerpta Medica, Inc.'

Publication Title

The American Journal of Surgery

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University of New Mexico School of Medicine


assessing medical students, competence, informed consent