University of Pittsburgh


Introduction to Patient Care

Introduction to Physical Exam

October 22, 2018-December 14, 2018
7 sessions

Course Director
Melissa McNeil, MD
Department of Medicine

Course Description

This course is dedicated to teaching the art and science of performing a physical examination.

The goals of the course are for students:

  1. to learn the techniques of the physical examination.
  2. to practice these techniques in the setting of a normal physical examination.
  3. to develop an orderly approach to performing a complete physical examination.
  4. to begin to differentiate between a screening physical examination and a more focused examination, and when each type of examination is indicated
  5. to understand how to use instruments, including an oto-ophthalmoscope, stethoscope, reflex hammer, and tuning fork

Faculty for this course are from the department of Medicine and from the senior medical student class. Small-group practice sessions are facilitated by 42 fourth-year medical students who have volunteered to teach and have had instruction in teaching methods.

Educational Methods


Lectures Small-group practice sessions Standardized-patient examinations    
Didactic sessions Quizzes        



Evaluation for this course is based on effort and preparation for the physical examination sessions, and on the score on the checklist used to evaluate the standardized patient examination session (must score 90% or above). There are five weekly quizzes. Students who do NOT receive a cumulative score of 80% on quizzes are asked to take and pass a final exam.

Grading: Students are required to pass this course to pass the Introduction to Patient Care Block, Section 1. Grading for the block is Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory.

Faculty Note

Course Director Melissa McNeil, MD, is a recipient of the Kenneth E. Schuit Master Educator Award, the Donald S. Fraley Award for Medical Student Mentoring, and multiple Excellence in Education Awards for Small Group Facilitator. In addition, Dr. McNeil is a member of the UPSOM Academy of Master Educators.