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Communication Skills

Director: Tara Sanft, MD

Good communication skills are fundamental to doctoring. Our curriculum teaches a model of relationship-centered communication that ensures that every patient feels heard, understood, and cared-for. This is accomplished by training students in specific listening skills and skills to seek out and understand the patient's emotional response to illness so as to respond with empathy. Modalities used to develop these skills include readings, lectures, demonstrations, reflection exercises, and multiple skills workshops with simulated participants, provided by the Simulated Participant Program through the Teaching and Learning Center. Students receive coaching and feedback provided by skilled faculty, peers, and simulated participants. As students move beyond basic skills, they practice more complex skills such as communicating serious news and managing strong emotion. The pre-clerkship curriculum also includes many opportunities to interview actual patients during class time in the clinical skills course and in the Interprofessional Longitudinal Clinical Experience and Medical Coaching Experience. In all of these settings, students apply their skills under faculty observation.