Testing bedside manner Would-be doctors

Testing bedside manner
Would-be doctors will have to pay $975 to be tested on test on bedside manner.

Concerned over an increasingly impersonal health system, the National Board of Medical Examiners will require medical students to pass a daylong test in which they encounter a dozen mock patients complaining of throbbing heads, aching backs, or burning throats.

The students will be graded on how well they build a rapport with the patients, how clearly they ask questions, how closely they listen for the answers, and how well they write up reports on the ailments.

I wonder if this very expensive exam will do much good. Surely, young doctors who know they’re being evaluated on their ability to communicate with patients will be on their best behavior for the day of clinical skills testing. It doesn’t say much about their normal interaction. And neophytes probably are less arrogant and more likely to listen than veteran doctors, who’ve gotten used to being godlike.

Yet the exam is already having one positive effect: Medical schools are now incorporating more training on clinical skills so students can pass the test. They’re teaching to the test.

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