Needs assessment for enhancing pediatric clerkship readiness

Adam Weinstein*, Peter MacPherson, Suzanne Schmidt, Elizabeth Van Opstal, Erica Chou, Mark Pogemiller, Kathleen Gibbs, Melissa Held

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Many students report feeling inadequately prepared for their clinical experiences in pediatrics. There is striking variability on how pediatric clinical skills are taught in pre-clerkship curricula. Methods: We asked students who completed their clerkships in pediatrics, family medicine, surgery, obstetrics-gynecology and internal medicine to rate their pre-clinical training in preparing them for each clerkship, specifically asking about medical knowledge, communication, and physical exam skills. Based on these results, we surveyed pediatric clerkship and clinical skills course directors at North American medical schools to describe the competence students should have in the pediatric physical exam prior to their pediatric clerkship. Results: Close to 1/3 of students reported not feeling adequately prepared for their pediatrics, obstetrics-gynecology, or surgery clerkship. Students felt less prepared to perform pediatric physical exam skills compared to physical exam skills in all other clerkships. Pediatric clerkship directors and clinical skills course directors felt students should have knowledge of and some ability to perform a wide spectrum of physical exam skills on children. There were no differences between the two groups except that clinical skills educators identified a slightly higher expected competence for development assessment skills compared to pediatric clerkship directors. Conclusions: As medical schools undergo cycles of curricular reform, it may be beneficial to integrate more pre-clerkship exposure to pediatric topics and skills. Further exploration and collaboration establishing how and when to incorporate this learning could serve as a starting point for curricular improvements, with evaluation of effects on student experience and performance. A challenge is identifying infants and children for physical exam skills practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number188
JournalBMC medical education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023


  • Clinical skills
  • Pediatric clerkship
  • Pediatric physical examination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


Dive into the research topics of 'Needs assessment for enhancing pediatric clerkship readiness'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this