Effectiveness of a course designed to teach handoffs to medical students

Eugene S. Chu, Mark Reid, Marisha Burden, Diana Mancini, Tara Schulz, Angela Keniston, Ellen Sarcone, Richard K. Albert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

20 Scopus citations


INTRODUCTION: Handoffs of patient care are increasingly common and are known to contribute to medical errors. A significant number, if not the large majority, of first-year Internal Medicine residents have not received formal education pertaining to handoffs during medical school. AIM: To develop a program designed to teach handoffs to medical students entering their fourth year of training. SETTING: University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine. PROGRAM DESCRIPTION: Our Handoff Selective was first offered in April 2007 as part of a 2-week Integrated Clinician's Course conducted once yearly between the third and fourth years of medical school. The Selective consisted of a didactic session in which communication theory and elements were discussed and a practicum in which students used faculty-developed case scenarios to practice both giving and receiving handoffs. PROGRAM EVALUATION: Sixty (the maximum number of spots available) out of 150 students participated in the course, although many more students chose the course than spots available. Prior to taking the Selective, medical students' confidence in performing handoffs was poor, but it improved after the course (P < 0.001); 92% of students felt the Handoff Selective was "useful" or "extremely useful." While both components of the course were thought to be useful to the large majority of students, the practicum portion was thought to be more useful (P < 0.001). DISCUSSION: Formal education on handoffs is well received by medical students and improves their self-perceived understanding and performance of handoffs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)344-348
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of hospital medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jul 1 2010


  • Communication
  • Handoffs
  • Medical student education
  • Patient safety

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Leadership and Management
  • Internal Medicine
  • Fundamentals and skills
  • Health Policy
  • Care Planning
  • Assessment and Diagnosis

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    Chu, E. S., Reid, M., Burden, M., Mancini, D., Schulz, T., Keniston, A., Sarcone, E., & Albert, R. K. (2010). Effectiveness of a course designed to teach handoffs to medical students. Journal of hospital medicine, 5(6), 344-348. https://doi.org/10.1002/jhm.633