Aquifer Oral Presentation Skills

Aquifer Oral Presentation Skills contains materials and exercises designed to develop excellent oral presentation skills, a critical communication tool for all health care providers. It is available for free for all teachers and learners. 


The development of outstanding oral presentation skills is one of the most important aspects of clinical training. Communication skills are integral to providing quality patient care. Furthermore, a good oral case presentation goes beyond simple transmission of information. It should provide the audience with insight into the presenter’s thought process and, indirectly, skill as a clinician. This course will discuss the components of an excellent oral presentation, with opportunities to practice each.

Modules Proven to be as Effective as In-person Teaching

The study published by Colin M. Sox, MD, MS, “Efficacy of a Web-Based Oral Case Presentation Instructional Module: Multicenter Randomized Controlled Trial”, in the January 2018 issue of Academic Pediatrics, reveals that the quality of oral presentations delivered by students who completed the Aquifer course did not differ from those who participated in faculty-led feedback sessions. Learn more…

Students often struggle with expectations regarding oral case presentations. In one study comparing the perceived expectations of third-year medical students and their preceptors, students “described and conducted the presentation as a rule-based, data-storage activity governed by order and structure”. Preceptors, on the other hand, viewed the presentation as a “flexible means of communication and a method for constructing the details of a case into a diagnostic or therapeutic plan.” [Haber RJ, Lingard LA. J Gen Int Med. 2001; 16(5):308]

Therefore, while certain rules are universal, the definition of a “good” oral presentation will depend on the situation. The complete oral presentation that you might give to a teaching attending in a classroom setting may not be very different from your written presentation, which details everything you know about your patient. Oral presentations on work rounds will be considerably shorter, however. Inpatient presentations may differ in style from those in the outpatient setting.

This course teaches the focused, problem-based inpatient case presentation given on work rounds, where a premium is placed on brevity and clinical decision-making.

Aquifer Oral Presentation Skills includes several modules that provide a clear course to building key oral communication skills.

  • Oral Presentation Skills 01: Introduction
    The primer reviews the organization of an oral presentation, particularly those in the inpatient setting, with examples offered for clarification of each section. The examples introduce clinical reasoning concepts which should ultimately guide the presentation.
  • Oral Presentation Skills 02: What is Pertinent
    This exercise involves identifying pertinent information based on varying chief complaints for both initial presentations and for follow-up progress reports.
  • Oral Presentation Skills 03: Assessment and Plan Exercise
    This exercise involves critiquing three audiotaped versions of an assessment and plan for the case. These examples include both model behavior and common mistakes.
  • Oral Presentation Skills 04: 4-month-old male with trouble breathing
    This virtual patient case presents Teddy, a four-month old with trouble breathing. Students are asked to build an oral presentation step by step as they work through the case through a combination of data-gathering, organizational and clinical reasoning exercises.