Learner's Guide to the Professional Skill Builder

The Professional Skill Builder (PSB) has been created to provide you with a way of practicing the cognitive skills required for interviewing and examining patients with cardiac and pulmonary disorders - skills that must endure permanently throughout your professional career.

A skill, by definition, is learned only through practice with expert guidance. The PSB provides both.

The PSB focuses on the development of four primary cognitive skills:

  1. accurate observation of a physical abnormality,
  2. its correct description,
  3. its correct interpretation, and
  4. the best method of verification using technology (e.g., labs, radiology, etc.).

Two secondary skills are also included:

  1. The integration of these observations with information obtained from the history,
  2. and
  3. Clinical judgement.

An accurate observation made at the bedside is no less scientific than an accurate observation made in a research laboratory. The observations included in the PSB are mainly verbal, visual, and auditory. Palpatory observations are provided via recordings of motion. Vital signs are always provided.

The case problems included in the PSB (there are over 60) are all authentic and drawn from faculty experience. They give you a one-on-one opportunity to evaluate important and common disorders that might not be available to you during your clinical rotations.

A faculty mentor is always available on the PSB to provide immediate feedback with respect to the accuracy of your responses. This feedback loop is one of the uniquely important and valuable aspects of this tool. Feedback is vital for the improvement of any skill and, unfortunately, is often challenging to obtain in the clinical setting.

It has been shown that you can build a more permanent skill by immediately comparing the correct with the incorrect observation or action. We recommend that you click on the incorrect options after identifying the correct one. It will improve your retention, which is a major objective of the PSB.

But there is no quick fix in learning a cognitive skill. It takes time and practice, just as it does to improve your golf swing or play the guitar.

Although great effort has been made to present these tutorial cases realistically and accurately, simulation is only a part of the different ways that you can develop your cognitive skills. It is only a start, but a very important one as it will give you the confidence in your ability to recognize the manifestations of cardiopulmonary disease in the hospital and clinic. Additionally, the skills and problem solving abilities that you develop when using the PSB will help you build new skills and improve old ones as you advance in your profession.