Medical EducationCOMMENTARY

Trainer-to-Student Ratios for Teaching Psychomotor Skills in Health Care Fields, as Applied to Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine

Karen T. Snider, DO, MS; Michael A. Seffinger, DO; Heather P. Ferrill, DO, MS; and Eric E. Gish, DO
Notes and Affiliations
Notes and Affiliations

Received: August 29, 2011

Accepted: January 31, 2012

Published: April 1, 2012

J Osteopath Med; 112(4): 182-187

The hallmark of osteopathic medical education is the inclusion of hands-on instruction in osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMM), which includes palpatory diagnosis and osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT). This OMM training typically involves a primary instructor presenting theory and techniques with step-by-step demonstrations to a large group of first- and second-year osteopathic medical students. Additional instructors, referred to as table trainers, assist the primary instructor by supervising the students as they practice the presented techniques. To the authors’ knowledge, there is no currently accepted standard for a table trainer–to-student ratio in OMM skills laboratories within osteopathic medical schools in the United States. However, through a Google Web search and PubMed literature review, the authors identified published trainer-to-student ratios used in other health care skills training curricula. Psychomotor skills training courses in health care fields typically have a table trainer–to-student ratio of 1 trainer to 8 or fewer students. On the basis of these findings and psychomotor skills learning theory, the authors conclude that this ratio is likely sufficient for OMM skills training.

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