COMMUICATION SKILLS TEACHING IN AN INTERNAL MEDICINE RESIDENCY PROGRAM

V. Dimov 1*, K. Uzunova-Dimova 2, S. Randhawa 3, A. Kumar 1, R. Christie 3 ,1 Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, OH 44195, U.S.A, 2 Private practice, Cleveland, OH 44140, U.S.A., 3 Case Western  Reserve University(St. Vincent/St Luke) Internal Medicine Residency Program, Cleveland, OH 44145, U.S.A.

Purpose
Despite the fact that achievement of interpersonal and communication skills is one of the 6 core competencies mandated by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, few residency programs have formal teaching curricula addressing the topic. We describe a communication skills teaching program which has been available at our institution for the last 5 years and has been perceived as useful by both residents and attending physicians.

Methods
A communications skills teaching program was designed to address complex areas in physician-patient interaction: communicating with a "difficult" patient, delivering "bad news," dealing with hostile family members, etc. Attendance of 10 teaching sessions was required during the academic year. The sessions were guided by the program director and associate program directors, and often involved role playing in which residents and attending acted as either patients or physicians.

Results
A communication skills teaching program was successfully incorporated into the training of our residents and was consistently perceived as very useful by both residents and attending physicians. Role playing was the component which was rated as most beneficial by the residents.

Conclusion
A formal curriculum focused on communication skills teaching may be a valuable part of residency training. Such teaching may improve physician-patient communication and satisfaction with clinical care.