OBJECTIVETo analyze students' perceptions towards learning communication skills pre-and-post training in a Communication and Clinical Skills Course (CCSC) at a Portuguese Medical School.METHODSContent analysis was used to describe and systematically analyze the content written by students (n=215 from a total of 229) in an open-ended survey. In addition, content analysis association rules were used to identify meaning units.RESULTSStudents' pre-training definitions of communication skills were not specific; their post-training definitions were more precise and elaborated. Students perceived communications skills in Medicine as important (61%), but recommended that teaching methodologies (52%) be restructured. There appeared to be no connection between criticism of teaching skills performance and perceptions of the other aspects of the course.CONCLUSIONStudents' experiences at CCSC are associated with their perceptions of communications skills learning. Content analysis associations indicated that these perceptions are influenced by context.PRACTICE IMPLICATIONSImprovement of curricula, teaching and assessment methods, and investment in faculty development are likely to foster positive perceptions towards learning communication skills in these students.