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Medical student training in communication skills 

Medical student training in communication skills
Medical student training in communication skills

Gregory Makoul

, Joshua Hauser

, and Henry Schneiderman

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date: 19 November 2018

This chapter reviews contemporary approaches to teaching and assessing communication skills at the medical school level, explicating considerations for effective communication in the context of oncology and primary care. Primary approaches for training involve small-group teaching with either role play or interviews with simulated patients. The SEGUE Framework for Teaching and Assessing Communication Skills is a widely used conceptual framework that is flexible enough for diverse situations, yet sufficiently specific to afford practical guidance. Several aspects of communication in oncology and palliative care make communication particularly challenging and important: (i) physician role; (ii) illness severity; (iii) interdisciplinary teams; (iv) dying and death; (v) family involvement. Accordingly, this context presents predicaments requiring advanced communication skills, which augment the basic skills needed to accomplish tasks outlined in the SEGUE Framework. These include addressing: (i) bad news; (ii) prognosis/uncertainty; (iii) goals of care/palliative care; (iv) conflict management; (v) family meetings; (vi) teamwork.

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