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New paper published: Does the inclusion of ‘professional development’ teaching improve medical students’ communication skills?

By Henry W W Potts, on 27 June 2011

MB BS courses have changed considerably in recent years. There has been a greater focus on professional development, cross-cutting skills beyond the traditional curriculum. It has yet to be established what is the best way of teaching the likes of communication skills.

That is the background to a recent paper by Katherine Joekes, Lorraine Noble and colleagues, now up at BMC Medical Education. The full team included researchers from UCL’s Division of Medical Education, St George’s Medical School and CHIME’s Dr Henry Potts.

We found that UCL medical students who had received new professional development teaching showed somewhat better performance in a test of communication skills, but the differences were modest, suggesting more needs to be done to help students acquire these essential skills.