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Medical education for the modern world: Communication is key

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While today’s doctors-in-training learn the most advanced clinical treatments and diagnostic methods, they may be missing out on something equally important: communication skills.

“Care delivery is moving towards a team-oriented model,” says Theodore Sectish, MD, director of education for the Boston Combined Residency Program (BRCP, a joint pediatric training program of Boston Children’s Hospital and Boston Medical Center). “We need to do a better job of training doctors to work with other clinicians and use standardized language.”

Poor communication can have a significant impact on patient outcomes. As Sectish points out, “Communication errors are the number one cause for sentinel events.” (A sentinel event is a death or serious injury in a health care setting that is unrelated to the natural course of the patient’s illness.)

And it’s not just discussions among clinicians that are important. Physicians must also be trained to translate complex medical information into a clear, comprehensible message for patients and families.

Recognizing that the era of maverick physicians working alone is over, hospital residency programs are developing initiatives to better prepare young doctors for the collaborative, patient-centered model of modern health care. …Read More

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