Transferring clinical communication skills from the classroom to the clinical environment: perceptions of a group of medical students in the United kingdom.
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PURPOSE: To better understand the transfer of classroom-learned clinical communication skills (CCS) to the clinical environment of the hospital ward, where they are practiced and refined by students. METHOD: The author first briefly presents the literature on clinical communication, provides an overview of the debates around the notion of transfer, and presents a sociocultural model of developmental transfer applied to CCS learning. Second, she describes a focus group and nine individual interviews carried out with 17 fourth-year medical students at one medical school in the United Kingdom in 2008. The goal was to elicit their views of CCS teaching, learning, and transfer of CCS to the clinical workplace. RESULTS: The findings are presented under the four main themes of transition, where students experienced the transition from the medical school to the hospital ward as a mixture of positive and negative impacts on transferring their CCS skills; the clinical culture, where senior doctors had the greatest impact on student learning and emergent clinical practice; clinical communication as a vehicle for professionalism and being a "good" doctor; and, finally, transfer mechanisms, where simulated practice with actors and the clinical history template were powerful learning tools. CONCLUSIONS: Findings indicate that more needs to be done to support, develop, and embed CCS into the professional practice of medical students in the clinical workplace. This may be achieved by greater collaboration of educators in the academic and clinical environments. Using the developmental transfer model applied to CCS learning may help foster this relationship.