Can incoming United States pediatric interns be entrusted with the essential communication skills of informed consent?

Can incoming United States pediatric interns be entrusted with the essential communication skills of informed consent?
Research Article
Nicholas Sevey, Michelle Barratt, Emma Omoruyi
Journal of Educational Evaluation for Health Professions, 29 June 2020; 17(18)
Open Access
Abstract
Purpose
According to the Entrustable Professional Activities (EPA) for Entering Residency by the Association of American Medical Colleges, incoming residents are expected to independently obtain informed consent for procedures they are likely to perform. This requires residents to not only inform their patients but to ensure comprehension of that information. We assessed the communication skills demonstrated by 372 incoming pediatric interns between 2007 and 2018 at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, obtaining informed consent for a lumbar puncture.
Methods
During a simulated case in which interns were tasked with obtaining informed consent for a lumbar puncture, a standardized patient evaluated interns by rating 7 communication-based survey items using 5-point Likert scale from “poor” to “excellent.” We then converted the scale to a numerical system and calculated intern proficiency scores (sum of ratings for each resident) and average item performance (average item rating across all interns).
Results
Interns received an average rating of 21.6 per 28 maximum score,) of which 227 interns (61.0%) achieved proficiency by scoring 21 or better. Notable differences were observed when comparing groups before and after EPA implementation (76.97% vs 47.0% proficient, respectively). Item-level analysis showed that interns struggled most to conduct the encounter in a warm and friendly manner and encourage patients to ask questions (average ratings of 2.97/4 and 2.98/4, respectively). Interns excelled at treating the patient with respect and actively listening to questions (average ratings of 3.16, each). Both average intern proficiency scores and each average item ratings were significantly lower following EPA implementation (P<0.001).
Conclusion
Interns demonstrated moderate proficiency in communicating informed consent, though clear opportunities for improvement exist such as demonstrating warmth and encouraging questions.

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