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Summary of published findings associated with ABSIM training at the University of Oklahoma Health Science Center*

Background: Medical school faculty are hard pressed to provide clerkship students with both the multiple practice opportunities, and more importantly, explicit feedback needed to assure their development of abdominal palpatory examination competencies. In this study we limited our investigation to only two of AbSim’s five training milestones. That is, a study to determine AbSim’s impact upon learners in terms of the adequacy of the palpatory depth and thoroughness of their palpatory examination of the abdomen.  


Methods: 137 third-year medical students were given the opportunity to develop their palpatory skills with the AbSim simulator during the family medicine rotation at the University of Oklahoma. The performance of those who studied with the simulator was measured by its palpation detecting sensors, before and after a training session that included visual feedback regarding the depth and coverage of the student’s palpatory (manual) pressure. Additionally, all students reported their confidence in their evolving abdominal palpation skills at the beginning and end of the rotation.

Results: AbSim training produced a highly significant improvement in the abdominal examination skills and competencies of third year medical students. More specifically, AbSim training resulted in highly significant improvements (p’s < 0.001) in the adequacy of the depth and thoroughness of the learners’ abdominal examination, along with a significant reduction in ‘palpating so deeply’ that it would likely induce pain in the patient. Further, the observed performance improvements via AbSim training were larger than those cumulatively produced by the students’ training and patient-based experiences on previous clinical rotations. 


Summary: To our knowledge, this is the first study demonstrating the beneficial effects of simulation-based training in the development of abdominal examination skills and competencies. 


Keywords: Abdominal examination, Diagnosis, Medical students, Palpation, Physical examination, Simulation


*Effects of using an abdominal simulator to develop palpatory competencies in 3rd year

medical students. Robert M. Hamm, David M. Kelley, Jose A. Medina, Noreen S. Syed, Geraint A. Harris, and Frank J. Papa. BMC Medical Education (2022) 22:63.

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