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Clinical Skills

Course Director: Jaideep S. Talwalkar, MD


The Clinical Skills (CS) Course spans the first eighteen months of school for all medical students. Students begin to develop and refine their clinical skills, the essential elements of “doctoring” that physicians use during patient encounters. In CS, students learn to communicate with patients, families, and other members of the care team; examine patients; develop clinical reasoning skills; and understand the important role of a student-doctor in a patient’s care. Students are also introduced to point-of-care ultrasound. Throughout CS, emphasis is placed on taking a patient-centered approach to care. Students gain more experience with skills taught in CS through direct patient contact in the Interprofessional Longitudinal Clinical Experience (ILCE) and the Medical Coaching Experience (MCE). The Clinical Skills Program continues through the four-year curriculum with more advanced topics during the clerkship and elective years.


Multiple teaching modalities are utilized in CS, but the bulk of the experiences are designed to be hands-on, offering students the opportunity to develop clinical skills with direct faculty observation and feedback, frequently with the use of simulated participants (SPs).


Students receive formative feedback throughout the course from instructors, SPs, and peers. Students pass the course by attending all mandatory class sessions and performing a competent history and physical exam in a standardized assessment session at the UConn Clinical Skills Assessment Center.

Learning Objectives

  • Demonstrate how to conduct an encounter in a patient-centered manner using skills which enhance trust between student and patient.
  • Show competency at taking a complete medical history, including skill in talking to patients about personal issues and psychosocial factors that could have impact on their health and experience of illness.
  • Recognize that relationship-centered interviewing is an evidence-based technique linked to improved diagnosis and treatment outcomes.
  • Reflect on the importance of cultural humility and developing skills that allow the student to communicate with individuals from different population groups.
  • Apply principles of medical interviewing towards health maintenance, disease prevention, and patient counseling.
  • Perform a complete physical examination with sensitivity to the needs of the patient.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the anatomic and physiologic basis behind physical exam maneuvers.
  • Consider how likelihood ratios impact interpretation of physical exam findings.
  • Recognize the importance of actively utilizing clinical reasoning during patient encounters to inform the performance of targeted histories and physical examinations.
  • Utilize probabilities to create a differential diagnosis.
  • Summarize a patient’s case in both written and oral formats, including history, physical, assessment, and plan.
  • Give and receive reinforcing and constructive feedback to improve performance.
  • Engage in the practice of self-reflection to develop one's own process of continuous learning.
  • Engage in the practice of self-reflection and group debriefing to develop one's own healthy coping mechanisms and response to stress.
  • Describe the major elements of palliative care and the role of the physician at the end of a patient’s life.
  • Demonstrate professional behavior expected of a medical student, while developing a more complete understanding of physician professionalism.

Clinical Skills Team