Perception of Malaysian Undergraduate Medical Students Regarding Soft Skills: A Qualitative Study

Seow Jiin Terng, Azel Azam Nair, Nisa Adini Binti Mohd Jafri, Sonali Pillai, Ravindu Kularatne, M. Ganesh Kamath, Shashikiran Umakanth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: The cognitive and psychomotor abilities needed by physicians are widely addressed in the undergraduate medical curriculum; however, the attitude (affective domain) is rarely addressed. Soft skills refer to a person's ability to communicate efficiently, collaborate, and have various personality traits that define people's interactions. This study aimed to determine the perception of undergraduate medical students on soft skills. Methods: A total of twenty-four undergraduate medical students from our institution participated in this study. The students attended a one-hour lecture session about soft skills conducted by a clinician. Within a week of the lecture, we held four focus group discussions (FGDs). Each focus group consisted of six students. This qualitative study's sample selection process was by the convenience sampling technique until participant numbers reached data saturation. Thematic analysis was used to interpret the transcripts of the FGDs. Results: Thirteen (54.1%) students had prior knowledge limited to some attributes of soft skills during high school and via community service. Introduction to soft skills specifically occurred to 18 (75.0%) students after joining the medical college. Ten (41.6%) students opined that empathy is the most essential, whereas nine (37.5%), four (16.6%), one (4.1%) mentioned that communication skills, teamwork, and time management, respectively, are essential soft skills for physicians. Conclusion: All undergraduate medical students (100%) enrolled in this study mentioned that soft skills are essential for physicians. Therefore, soft skills training must become an integral part of the undergraduate medical curriculum rather than merely a component of the hidden curriculum.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-10
Number of pages6
JournalMalaysian Journal of Medicine and Health Sciences
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine(all)


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