Physical examination and health assessment skills are essential components of nursing practice, and the critical elements to be taught merit further investigation.
To develop and evaluate a physical examination and health assessment course based on a self-directed learning framework.
An action research design was employed.
A baccalaureate nursing program of the university of science and technology in central Taiwan.
A convenience sample comprising 23 teaching faculty members and 41 enrolled second-year students was recruited.
Structured questionnaires were developed for data collection. A paired t-test and the Kruskal-Wallis test were used for data analysis.
The course consisted of four parts: health history taking from a holistic perspective, examination skills in diverse systems, case exercise and discussion, and final objective structured clinical examination. Statistical significance was found in the areas of physical examination skills, critical thinking, and case analysis. Participants with mid-to high-level self-directed learning had significantly higher scores than those with low-level self-directed learning on physical examination skills and problem assessment. Internal and discriminant validity were supported.
The study results provide evidence supporting the use of self-directed learning framework in curriculum design. The course integrated necessary knowledge and skills enabled students to practice physical examination, and assessment skills may enhance student confidence in approaching patients in clinical encounters. However, the study was a descriptive design. The generalization of the results needs to be further validated by an experimental study.

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