Teaching and assessing procedural skills: A qualitative study

Claire Touchie*, Susan Humphrey-Murto, Lara Varpio

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Background: Graduating Internal Medicine residents must possess sufficient skills to perform a variety of medical procedures. Little is known about resident experiences of acquiring procedural skills proficiency, of practicing these techniques, or of being assessed on their proficiency. The purpose of this study was to qualitatively investigate resident 1) experiences of the acquisition of procedural skills and 2) perceptions of procedural skills assessment methods available to them. Methods. Focus groups were conducted in the weeks following an assessment of procedural skills incorporated into an objective structured clinical examination (OSCE). Using fundamental qualitative description, emergent themes were identified and analyzed. Results: Residents perceived procedural skills assessment on the OSCE as a useful formative tool for direct observation and immediate feedback. This positive reaction was regularly expressed in conjunction with a frustration with available assessment systems. Participants reported that proficiency was acquired through resident directed learning with no formal mechanism to ensure acquisition or maintenance of skills. Conclusions: The acquisition and assessment of procedural skills in Internal Medicine programs should move toward a more structured system of teaching, deliberate practice and objective assessment. We propose that directed, self-guided learning might meet these needs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number69
JournalBMC Medical Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Assessment
  • Deliberate practice
  • Objective structured clinical examination
  • Procedural skills
  • Simulation


Dive into the research topics of 'Teaching and assessing procedural skills: A qualitative study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this