Original Publication
Open Access

Newborn Nursery Teaching Attending Guide: Module 2. Newborn Physical Examination

Published: April 26, 2012 | 10.15766/mep_2374-8265.9161

Included in this publication:

  • Newborn Physical Exam Facilitator's Guide.doc
  • Complete Physical.mov
  • Newborn Physical Exam Checklist.docx
  • Newborn Reflexes.pdf

To view all publication components, extract (i.e., unzip) them from the downloaded .zip file.

Editor's Note: This publication predates our implementation of the Educational Summary Report in 2016 and thus displays a different format than newer publications.


Introduction: This resource is a part of a seven module curriculum intended to provide teaching faculty caring for well newborns with accessible, approachable, easily delivered, hands-on tools for bedside teaching in the newborn nursery. The seven modules are linked. Methods: This module focuses on acquiring the skills to complete a newborn physical examination. Also included is a guide to newborn reflexes. This checklist has been used for third-year medical students, pediatric, medicine-pediatric and family medicine interns, and physician assistant students at three different institutions. Results: This checklist was evaluated by randomizing 22 medical students into one of two groups: students who received feedback using this checklist and students who received routine feedback without using this checklist (control group). At the end of their one week newborn rotation, students’ newborn physical exam skills were assessed by a blinded pediatrician. Using the checklist, students were given a score (0 = not done, 1 = needs improvement, 2 = done). Students who had received feedback using this checklist had a higher average score on individual items (average score 1.72 vs. 1.55 for control group, not significant). Discussion: Attending physicians found the checklists easy to understand and easy to use. They felt that the checklists improved the quality of the feedback that the students received by covering more areas and by focusing on specific points. This checklist has been part of the University of Michigan student and intern curriculum since 2008.

Educational Objectives

Learners will identify and demonstrate the components of a complete newborn physical exam.

Author Information

  • Stephanie Cheng: Oregon Health Sciences University
  • Jocelyn Schiller, MD: University of Michigan Medical School
  • Erin Brackbill, MD: Greenville Hospital Systems
  • Katherine Layton, MD: Peninsula Regional Medical Center
  • Heather Burrows, MD, PhD: University of Michigan
  • Amy Fleming, MD: Vanderbilt Medical School
  • Chris Chapman: University of Michigan
  • John Westfall: University of Michigan
  • Sandhya Srinkantom, MD: Legacy Clinic Good Samaritan
  • Jared Austin, MD: Oregon Health and Sciences University

None to report.

None to report.


Schiller J, Brackbill E, Layton K, et al. Newborn nursery teaching attending guide: module 2. Newborn physical examination. MedEdPORTAL. 2012;8:9161. https://doi.org/10.15766/mep_2374-8265.9161