Background: Oral case presentations are critical for patient care and student assessment. The best method to prepare early medical students for oral presentations is unknown. Aim: We aimed to develop and evaluate a curriculum of on-line learning and deliberate practice to improve pre-clinical students' case presentation skills. Methods: We developed a web-based, interactive curriculum emphasizing conciseness and clinical reasoning. Using a waitlist control design, we randomly assigned groups of second-year students to receive the curriculum in December 2010 or in April 2011. We evaluated their presentations at three time points. We also examined the performance of an untrained class of students as a historical comparison. Results: We evaluated 132 second-year medical students at three time points. After the curriculum, mean scores of the intervention students improved from 60.2% to 70.1%, while scores of the waitlist control students improved less, from 61.8% to 64.5% (p < 0.01 for between-group difference in improvement). Once all students had received the curriculum, mean scores for the intervention and waitlist control students rose to 77.8% and 78.4%, respectively, compared to 68.1% for the untrained comparison students (p < 0.0001 compared to all curriculum students). Conclusion: An on-line curriculum followed by deliberate practice improved students' oral presentation skills.
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