Integrating Communication Training into a Required Family Medicine Clerkship


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Abstract

Persistent evidence suggests that the communication skills of practicing physicians do not achieve desired goals of enhancing patient satisfaction, strengthening health outcomes and decreasing malpractice litigation. Stronger communication skills training during the clinical years of medical education might make use of an underutilized window of opportunity—students’ clinical years—to instill basic and important skills. The authors describe the implementation of a novel curriculum to teach patient-centered communication skills during a required third-year, six-week family medicine clerkship. Curriculum development and implementation across 24 training sites in a five-state region are detailed. A faculty development effort and strategies for embedding the curriculum within a diverse collection of training sites are presented. Student and preceptor feedback are summarized and the lessons learned from the curriculum development and implementation process are discussed.

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