Step-by-Step Training Video and Manual for the Physical Examination

Publication ID Published Version
9046 December 6, 2011 7


Hospitalized patients appropriate for teaching physical examination to medical students have been increasingly difficult to secure - sicker patients and shorter hospital stays. Physicians are also under pressure to generate revenue, leaving less time for non-revenue generating activities such as supervising medical students. To proactively address the above concerns, the course faculty at Wayne State University School of Medicine decided to implement a program of using standardized patients to supplement the teaching of physical diagnosis. 

This program lets students learn and practice their physical examination skills in a less stressful, more predictable, standardized environment and provides them with individualized instruction. It allows the students the ability to practice repeatedly and to obtain feedback from the SPTA about their technique.

This resource includes a comprehensive Step by Step guide (video and SPTA teaching materials) for teaching the basic physical exam.

Since 2004 years we have been using SPTAs help teach the physical exam to our preclinical medical students at Wayne State University. These materials have been very effective in standardizing the teaching for our large medical school class (~290 students). It has also allowed students acquire basic physical exam skills by practicing on SPTAs prior to their contact with real patients in the hospital setting. Trainees of other healthcare professions can also use this resource.


Afonso N, Schwartz L, Brennan S. Step-by-Step Training Video and Manual for the Physical Examination. MedEdPORTAL Publications; 2011. Available from:

Educational Objectives

  1. To be familiar with the pertinent anatomy and physiology as it applies to the physical exam.
  2. To be familiar with the techniques necessary to perform a physical examination.


  • Physical Examination


  • Patient Care
  • Practice-based Learning & Improvement

Instructional Methods

  • Independent Learning

Academic Focus

  • Clinical Sciences
    • Clinical Exam

Intended Audience

  • Professional School
    • Medical Student


  • Reference
  • Standardized Patient
  • Video

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