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Software as research tool: in our effort to develop effective teaching tools, we have embarked on a multi-center study to measure the performance of students and trainees receiving instruction with our software. This Proficiency Test has been used in two ways: first, to measure physical examination skills at every training level, including full-time medical school faculty; and second, to assess whether multimedia-based instruction can improve examination skills in third-year medical students.

Note: this software is for sale to institutions only. For more information, please contact the Principal Investigator.

Background. Cardiac examination skills are not adequately taught in training programs, and as a result are poorly performed by trainees in internal medicine. To address these deficiencies, we developed an interactive multimedia Heart Sounds Proficiency Test that measured the auscultation skills of 860 medical, students, trainees and graduate physicians in academic and private practice.

Results. Mean test scores (out of 100) were not significantly different among the following groups: medical students (58), internal medicine residents (62), family medicine residents (51), clinical faculty (51), full-time faculty (59), or private practice (56). Cardiology fellows tested significantly better (78) than all other groups (P<0.001).

Conclusions. Testing trainees and faculty alike suggest that clinical skills in cardiac physical diagnosis do not improve after medical school. With the proper tools emphasizing the integration of sight and sound, however, students can dramatically improve their auscultation proficiency, correctly identifying systolic and diastolic events at the level of cardiology fellows.

Mean test scores by training level. Click on the figure to enlarge the image
Download the report: ArchIntMed.pdf(145KB)

The Principal Investigator for this research project is Stuart Criley, of Blaufuss Multimedia. Support is provided by grant number 2R44HL062841-02, a Phase II SBIR research grant from the National Institutes of Health.