EM1808F "Communication: A High-Risk Procedure and the Task of Teaching Others" (IM GR-081718)

Communication skills are essential to medical practice, though these skills are often acquired through trial and error or observation of one’s peers and supervising physicians. National organizations representing a broad cross section of subspecialties are calling for improved patient-physician communication in the context of serious and life-limiting illnesses. Poor communication is linked to physician burnout, increased risk of malpractice suits, and patient dissatisfaction. When clinicians communicate effectively, patients retain more information and have more trust, improved outcomes, and a better quality of life. Extensive research shows that physicians often feel uncomfortable having difficult conversations, and that communication skills can be improved through education. While there are nuances to the use of clinician-patient communication frameworks, the general concepts are consistent: Provide clear information, recognize and respond to emotion, elicit patient values, and provide patient-specific medical recommendations based on their values. When provided with a defined structure for approaching difficult conversations, evidence shows that most physicians immediately feel more confident and are eager to learn more. When experienced clinicians can recognize and identify the skills they use to communicate effectively with patients, this in turn enhances the learning environment for peers and trainees.

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Target Audience

UT Southwestern faculty, fellows, residents and medical students, community physicians, nurse clinicians, physician assistants and nurses.

Learning Objectives

At the conclusion of this activity, the participant should be able to:

  • Explore the importance of patient-clinician communication
  • Describe a structured approach to clinician communication skills
  • Examine a teaching method for communication skills education
Course summary
Available credit: 
  • 1.00 AMA
Course opens: 
Course expires: 

Photo: Caitlin Siropaides, D.O.Caitlin Siropaides, D.O.
Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine Division of General Internal Medicine

Dr. Caitlin Holt Siropaides is an Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine and Palliative Care at UT Southwestern Medical Center. She graduated Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine in 2012, and subsequently completed her internal medicine residency and palliative care fellowship training at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in 2016. Throughout her education at UPMC, she received specialized communication skills training under the direction of Dr. Robert Arnold, which instilled in her a passion to improve the quality of clinician communication with patients and families. She found the structured approach to communication skills training very powerful and came to UTSW with a significant drive to share that experience with others. She led an institutional initiative to train 24 multispecialty care providers in a procedural approach to communication skills, with 12 faculty completing an intensive Faculty Development course to provide courses at UTSW.

Available Credit

  • 1.00 AMA


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