Teaching the Evaluation of Female Pelvic Pain: A Hands-On Simulation to Reinforce Exam Skills and Introduce Transvaginal Ultrasound

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Introduction: Reproductive-age female patients commonly seek evaluation for pelvic pain in a variety of health care settings. Thus, teaching medical students how to effectively evaluate female pelvic pain is a necessary part of medical education. There are limited opportunities, however, to reinforce the needed skills for this common but sensitive presentation that can be anxiety-producing for preclinical students. Methods: The case involved a 23-year-old female presenting with lower abdominal/pelvic pain. Students performed the necessary history, physical examination, cervical sampling, and transvaginal ultrasound evaluation to make the diagnosis of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) complicated by a tubo-ovarian abscess. The 30-minute simulated patient encounter was followed by a 30-40 minute faculty-led debrief. Results: This simulation case has been sustained in the curriculum since 2011 for 65 students per year. Through use of a faculty critical action checklist, debrief discussion, examination performance, and student evaluation feedback, this simulation has demonstrated effectiveness. Of students, 93 of 193 students (48%) who participated in the simulation case from 2018-2020 completed a survey in which they rated the degree of agreement with statements about the simulation based on a 5-point Likert Scale (1 = strongly disagree, 5 = strongly agree). All questions had a mean response of 4.5-4.8 in 2018-2020, demonstrating the consistent agreement by students of the clarity, fidelity, and knowledge-enhancing value of the simulation. Discussion: This simulation provided a useful opportunity and a safe environment for preclinical medical students to acquire knowledge and skills necessary to evaluate a female patient with pelvic pain and PID.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11080
Number of pages1
JournalMedEdPORTAL : the journal of teaching and learning resources
StatePublished - Jan 25 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Pearson et al.


  • Acute Abdomen
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Family Medicine
  • Female Pelvic Exam
  • OB/GYN
  • Sexually Transmitted Infection
  • Simulation
  • Transvaginal Ultrasound
  • Women's Health


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