Learning the breast examination with Physical Exam Teaching Associates: development and evaluation of the teaching setup. An action research approach

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Learning how to perform the clinical breast examination (CBE) as an undergraduate medical student is an important though complex activity, due to its intimate nature. A Physical Exam Teaching Associate (PETA) - based teaching session addresses this issue and is well founded in literature, though detailed information regarding its development is missing. In this study, we address this gap by providing a comprehensive description of the design and development of a PETA-based session for teaching the CBE. A qualitative study according to the principles of action research was done in order to develop the teaching session, using questionnaires and focus groups to explore participants’ experience. PETAs were recruited, trained and deployed for teaching the CBE to medical students in a small-scale, consultation-like setup. Next, the session was evaluated by participants. This sequence of actions was carried out twice, with evaluation of the first teaching cycle leading to adjustments of the second cycle. Students greatly appreciated the teaching setup as well as the PETAs’ immediate feedback, professionalism, knowledge and attitude. In this study, we successfully designed a PETA-based session for teaching the CBE to undergraduate medical students. We recommend using this strategy for teaching the CBE.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)502-512
Number of pages11
JournalWomen & Health
Issue number6
Early online date8 Jun 2022
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2022


  • Clinical breast examination,
  • Clinical skills
  • Medical education
  • Teaching associates
  • Women’s health
  • Clinical breast examination
  • Women's health

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