This report describes an attempt to evaluate the effectiveness of "trained mother" interviews early in the medical school curriculum. As an adjunct to a first-year course that teaches interviewing techniques, half of the students were exposed to an interview with one of three trained mothers early in the course. This treatment interview was immediately followed by a feedback session which concentrated on the content and process of interviewing. At the end of the course, all students had an evaluative interview. Those students who had an initial interview and feedback session with a trained mother scored significantly higher on both the content and process of their interviews than the control group. This technique is an effective and efficient way to teach interviewing skills to medical students prior to entering any of their clinical clerkships. A follow-up assessment conducted one year later indicated that one interview with a trained mother is sufficient for optimal learning and that the skills learned are retained over at least that period of time.

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