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Tools to Measure Interpersonal and Communication Skills

The following tools have been reviewed by family medicine educators and identified as reliable methods to measure the interpersonal and communication skills competency. Click on the tool name for a detailed description of the tool and a link to the tool itself.

Clinical Encounter Card

This tool aids scoring trainee performance based on direct observation of patient encounter. Dimensions: history taking, physical exam, professional behavior, technical skill,case presentation, problem formulation (diagnosis) and problem solving (therapy). 

Clinical Work Sampling

To provide direct observation of clinical performance and global assessment of residents by a multidisciplinary team.

Direct Observation

To measure the "does" which can be extremely accurate and reliable if master evaluators are trained together to use typically simple checklists or global evaluation tools in such as a way that they all score similarly.

Field Notes

Pre-printed forms (usually in a prescription sized pad) that allow for immediate feedback about directly observed events.

Groningen Reflective Ability Scale

A written survey to assess the personal reflection ability.  

Mini Clinical Evaluation Exercise 

Mini-CEX is designed to assess residents in the setting of day-to-day practice.

Objective Structured Clinical Exam

Objective Structured Clinical Exam (OSCE) uses a standardized patient using a prepared script to provide a clinical case management scenario during which assessments by faculty can be made to assess a more comprehensive competency assessment beyond medical knowledge possible in a written exam.


Primary method of providing graded supervision and independence in the outpatient and inpatient setting. It can be enhanced by using the one-minute preceptor methods.

Procedure Assessment

This tool assesses competency in performing procedures (patient care) as well as the other five competency domains. It also assesses for privileging.

Reflective Ability Rubric

To describe learners' level of reflective ability as determined from a written essay based on a prompt such as "a patient who taught you the most about treating a patient with dignity and respect," or "reflect on a recent clinical or other professional situation where you made a mistake or didn't have the necessary knowledge or skills."

Simulation-based Assessment

Simulation-based assessment develops or assesses individual skills and/or effective teamwork. Test skills needed to manage rare or critical events.

Standardized Patient

Standardized patients provide a method to assess clinical skills of a trainee for either formative or summative evaluation by having the resident under direct observation simulate the assessment of a trained non-patient capable of portraying a patient encounter using a scoring methodology.

Structured Portfolio

Tool is used to collect evidence in a structured way to support demonstration of competence.  

Systems Survey for Residency Outpatient Practice

Self-Assessment Tool to assess "Medical Homeness". Similar to the AAFP Patient-centered Medical Home Checklist

Video Review

Performs the same functions as direct observation and allows the learner to do self assessment as well through viewing of the video after conclusion of the patient visit.

Copyright 2014 by Society of Teachers of Family Medicine