Development, conduction and evaluation of an examination course for general practice - diagnostic strategies without the use of diagnostic equipment

Martin Berwig, Markus Herrmann, Jonas Werner

Keywords: physical examination course, general practice, diagnostic strategies, inherent diagnostic uncertainty


Within the framework of the planned new licensing regulations for physicians, the Institute of General Practice (IGP) is expanding the range of medical courses in general practice offered at the Otto von Guericke University of Magdeburg. A physical examination course in general medicine has been developed at the IGP. In this course students should learn diagnostic strategies without the use of diagnostic equipment in order to deal with the inherent diagnostic uncertainty in general practice. The accompanying study investigates whether the learning objectives of the physical examination course can be reached more effectively with a classical, face-to-face lecture and seminar format or with a digital e-learning course.


The used method for the evaluation of learning effectiveness is a cluster-randomized controlled study. Half of the seminar groups (clusters) of the sixth semestertake part in a lecture (online via Zoom) and a face to face seminar, while the other half of the groups participate in a digital e-learning course in Moodle. We will measure the performance level of the students before the course in a survey (primary outcome) and compare it to the performance of the students in an objective structured clinical examination (OSCE) (secondary outcome) in order to evaluate the overall learning effectiveness (outcome).
Furthermore, we carry out a qualitative and quantitative evaluation of the teaching and learning process (e.g. experienced benefits).


The results of the planned accompanying study (will be available at the time of the congress) should firstly clarify whether the course contributes to a positive learning effect and secondly whether the learning effectiveness is as great in the digital e-learning course as in the face-to-face lecture and seminar format.


Depending on the results, it can be decided whether the examination course will be implemented in an analogue face-to-face or digital teaching format at THE IGP in the future.

Points for discussion:

Is dealing with inherent diagnostic uncertainty in general practice also relevant for other specialties in medical education?

Can a digital teaching format meaningfully replace an analogue face-to-face format?

What opportunities and risks does the audience see in a digital e-learning physical examination course?


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