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Physical Examination

Photo by Harold Shapiro

Director: Joseph Donroe MD, MPH

The examination of the body is fundamental to the practice of medicine. Physical examination skills lead to correct diagnoses, appropriate clinical questions, and selective ordering and appropriate interpretation of diagnostic tests and treatments. In the YSM pre-clerkship curriculum, physical examination is taught through hands-on activities as students work in small groups under the guidance of our physical exam faculty. Physical examination is integrated with our point-of-care ultrasound curriculum to correlate elements of the exam with the underlying anatomy and physiology. Through the physical examination portion of the clinical skills course, students learn to:

  1. Perform physical examination in a humane and systematic way
  2. Develop examination techniques in the healthy person
  3. Build skills in detecting and describing normal findings
  4. Become proficient with the head-to-toe patient examination
  5. Develop an approach to examination that preserves patient dignity, modesty, and comfort

Students receive direct, individualized feedback on their physical exam skills from experienced clinicians. Physical examination skills are re-enforced in the Interprofessional Longitudinal Clinical Experience and Medical Coaching Experience as students apply skills to patients under faculty observation.