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Open Access Research article

Training auscultatory skills: computer simulated heart sounds or additional bedside training? A randomized trial on third-year medical students

Øystein Sverdrup1, Torstein Jensen2, Svein Solheim3 and Knut Gjesdal13*

Author Affiliations

1 Faculty of Medicine, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway

2 Lovisenberg Deaconess Hospital, Oslo, Norway

3 Department of Cardiology, Ullevål University Hospital, Oslo, Norway

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BMC Medical Education 2010, 10:3  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-10-3

Published: 18 January 2010



The present study compares the value of additional use of computer simulated heart sounds, to conventional bedside auscultation training, on the cardiac auscultation skills of 3rd year medical students at Oslo University Medical School.


In addition to their usual curriculum courses, groups of seven students each were randomized to receive four hours of additional auscultation training either employing a computer simulator system or adding on more conventional bedside training. Cardiac auscultation skills were afterwards tested using live patients. Each student gave a written description of the auscultation findings in four selected patients, and was rewarded from 0-10 points for each patient. Differences between the two study groups were evaluated using student's t-test.


At the auscultation test no significant difference in mean score was found between the students who had used additional computer based sound simulation compared to additional bedside training.


Students at an early stage of their cardiology training demonstrated equal performance of cardiac auscultation whether they had received an additional short auscultation course based on computer simulated training, or had had additional bedside training.