Aim: To examine the relationship between a physician's ability to examine a standardized patient (SP) and their ability to correctly identify related clinical findings created with simulation technology. Method: The authors conducted an observational study of 347 candidates during a Canadian national specialty examination at the end of post-graduate internal medicine training. Stations were created that combined physical examination of an SP with evaluation of a related audio-video simulation of a patient abnormality, in the domains of cardiology and neurology. Examiners evaluated a candidate's competence at performing a physical examination of an SP and their accuracy in diagnosing a related audio-video simulation. Results: For the cardiology stations, the correlation between the physical examination scores and recognition of simulation abnormalities was 0.31 (p < 0.01). For the neurology stations, the correlation was 0.27 (p < 0.01). Addition of the simulations identified 18% of 197 passing candidates on the cardiology stations and 17% of 240 passing candidates on the neurology stations who were competent in their physical examination technique but did not achieve the passing score for diagnostic skills. Conclusions: Assessments incorporating SPs without physical findings may need to include other methodologies to assess bedside diagnostic acumen.
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