gms | German Medical Science

Jahrestagung der Gesellschaft für Medizinische Ausbildung (GMA)

14.09. - 17.09.2016, Bern, Schweiz

Communication skills training and assessment in undergraduate medical education: medical graduates', raters', and teachers' perspectives

Meeting Abstract

  • corresponding author presenting/speaker Sabine Feller - Bern, Schweiz
  • Stefanie Hautz - Bern, Schweiz
  • Kai Schnabel - Bern, Schweiz
  • Sören Huwendiek - Bern, Schweiz
  • Christina Klöckner Cronauer - Geneva, Schweiz
  • Noëlle Junod Perron - Geneva, Schweiz

Jahrestagung der Gesellschaft für Medizinische Ausbildung (GMA). Bern, 14.-17.09.2016. Düsseldorf: German Medical Science GMS Publishing House; 2016. DocV37-609

doi: 10.3205/16gma170, urn:nbn:de:0183-16gma1702

Published: September 5, 2016

© 2016 Feller et al.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License. See license information at



Introduction: The Swiss Catalogue of Learning Objectives (SCLO) sets the framework for both communication skills (CS) teaching at Swiss medical schools and assessment of CS in the federal licensing examination (FLE). In order to find out which CS were taught during undergraduate medical training and if or how assessment might be improved we performed a needs assessment among communication skills teachers, raters and medical graduates.


CS training: Communication skills teachers as well as graduates were asked which of 33 CS were taught during medical training.

CS assessment: All FLE raters were asked to fill in a survey on the assessment of communication skills during the FLE. Graduates, teachers, and raters were asked how assessment might be improved.

Answers were analysed descriptively when numerical or using content analysis when written.


16 teachers (response rate 100%), 350 medical graduates (response rate 38%), and 200 raters (response rate 54%) answered the questionnaire.

CS training: Teachers and graduates considered that 9 (graduates: 6) out of 33 CS were not appropriately taught (e.g. history taking in absence of patient, communication with vulnerable patients).

CS assessment: Graduates and raters suggested adding stations focused on more challenging communication situations (e.g. breaking bad news) or asking for the simulated patient’s (SP) judgment. Raters and teachers suggested improving the assessment instrument and adapting rater training.


CS training: Teachers and graduates have a similar view on which communication skills are being taught during medical training.

CS assessment: Raters and graduates suggest adding 'communication stations' and using the SP's judgment. Teachers and raters suggest adapting assessment instruments and rater training.

Take home message: The results of this needs assessment might be used as a basis to improve and strengthen communication skills training and assessment in all five Swiss medical schools.