Teaching Medical Educators How to Teach Communication Skills: More than a Decade of Experience

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Abstract

Objectives

Although opportunities exist for medical educators to gain additional training in teaching, literature that describes how to teach educators to teach communication skills to trainees is limited. The authors developed and evaluated a faculty development course that uses didactics, demonstration, drills, and role-play in a small-group format.

Methods

The course has been offered through the Institute for Clinical Research Education at the University of Pittsburgh for almost 15 years. Course effectiveness was evaluated with a survey of 62 clinicians who completed the course between 2003 and 2012.

Results

The response rate was 85%. A total of 98% would recommend the course to a colleague and 98% indicated the course was effective at developing teaching techniques. Their use of standardized patients, teaching in small groups, and role-play increased as a result of participation in the course. A total of 70% went on to formally teach communication skills at various medical education levels.

Conclusions

This structured course effectively taught participants how to teach patient–doctor communication in both classroom and clinical settings. The majority put these techniques to use in formal settings. This course also provided educators with the skills necessary to meet the growing needs of training programs charged with teaching the next generation of providers to effectively communicate with patients. The description presented can serve as a framework for faculty development in teaching communication.

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