Indexed on: 27 Sep '16Published on: 27 Sep '16Published in: The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association
The use of standardized patients (SPs) promotes and enhances interpersonal skill sets of medical students and provides a critical opportunity for students to display their relational competence during simulated patient encounters.To investigate whether SPs' ratings of osteopathic medical students' empathy and interpersonal skills correlate with students' self-rated empathy.The study used a cross-sectional quantitative design. After SP encounters, first-, second-, and third-year osteopathic medical students self-rated empathy using the Jefferson Scale of Empathy medical student version. Standardized patients also assessed students' empathy using the Jefferson Scale of Patient Perceptions of Physician Empathy and interpersonal skills using the Professionalism Assessment Ratings Scale.Of 780 first-, second-, and third-year students, 717 students returned the survey (91.9%). In total, 383 students were women (53.4%) and 334 were men (46.6%). Of 717 SP encounters, SPs returned surveys for 648 encounters (90.3%). Ratings from SPs regarding their perceptions of osteopathic medical students' empathetic abilities and interpersonal skills did not correlate with students' self-rated empathy scores. Second- and third-year students were perceived by SPs as having better-developed empathetic and interpersonal skill sets when compared with first-year students. Results of SPs' ratings indicated that the higher the interpersonal skills, the higher the SP-perceived empathy for students across all years (r=0.66; P<.001).Students' self-rated empathy did not correlate with SP-perceived empathy. However, the findings validated that students' core relational competencies increase as they progress through medical school.