Council on Medical Student Education in Pediatrics


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COMSEP 2005 North Carolina Meeting

Poster Presentation:

Developing and Implementing Communications Training and Evaluation


 D Currin, MPH; G Marion, PhD, PA-C; S Crandall, PhD, MS; T Williamson, MS; M Lawless, MD. Wake Forest University School of Medicine

 Background: Communication skills are increasingly emphasized in medical education. Expert consensus identify seven essential elements of physician-patient communication (SEEPPC): 1) build the relationship, 2) open the discussion, 3) gather information, 4) understand the patient's perspective, 5) share information, 6) reach agreement on problems and plans, and 7) provide closure. Wide disparity exists in how medical school faculties teach and assess communication skills. Providing feedback for students as they develop these skills during multiple patient encounters increases the likelihood of a well trained physician work force to care for patients of diverse backgrounds.

Objectives: To improve students' ability to communicate more therapeutically with patients of all backgrounds; increase evaluator ability to assess students; and enhance faculty understanding of how to teach physician-patient communication.

Methods: In collaboration with departments of Family and Community Medicine and Internal Medicine we implemented a communications curriculum to: 1) develop a patient scenario; 2) recruit and train standardized patients; 3) train faculty to use the Common Ground Rating Form; and 4) introduce/review the SEEPPC with students via 1-hour workshop and review of the Common Ground model. At end of ambulatory portion of clerkship, students are observed through a one-way mirror during a 15-minute encounter with a simulated patient and evaluated using the Common Ground Rating Form.

Conclusions: The pediatrics faculty has embraced this training and evaluation process which provides guidance for identifying specific communications criteria. Our next goal is to recruit standardized patients of other ethnicities, especially Hispanic, and to train additional faculty to use the Common Ground Rating Form.