Patient communication skills need to be taught as part of residency training, according to a study appearing in the August issue of the Archives of Surgery (a theme issue of the journal focusing on surgical training). With limited short-term training, case-specific skills improved more than general communications skills, the article states.
Lead author Rajiv Chandawarker, MD, from the Department of Plastic Surgery, University of Connecticut School of Medicine, Farmington, and colleagues note that surgical residents do not usually get formal training in how to communicate with patients, but instead learn those skills on the job.
However, the authors say, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education considers good communication to be a core competency skill and requires that residency programs document formal processes for assessing how well residents communicate. Another requirement is to provide residents with feedback on both clinical competence and interpersonal communication. Role playing, using standardized patients (usually actors), is a common, widely accepted training method for assessing both sets of these skills.
"The goal of this project was to teach surgical residents to incorporate patient-centered communication skills into their practice, providing emotional support, transition, and continuity of care, as well as information and education, involving family and friends and respecting patient values and differences," the authors write.
They designed a 3-step pilot study that involved 44 general surgery residents.
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