JOURNAL ARTICLE

Training obstetrics and gynecology residents to be effective communicators in the era of the 80-hour workweek: a pilot study

Omar Maurice Young, Kristiina Parviainen
BMC Research Notes 2014, 7: 455
25030271

BACKGROUND: To ensure optimal patient care, physicians must establish effective patient-physician relationships and thoughtfully incorporate their patients' perspectives into their counseling. Historically, these skills are acquired with increasing clinical experience. However, given increasing work-hour restrictions, OB/GYN residents have fewer opportunities to develop these skills. Therefore, the objective of this study was to determine if an interactive learning method is an effective tool by which to teach OB/GYN residents how to communicate with complicated patients.

METHODS: An experiential simulation model was developed to teach OB/GYN residents effective communication skills for dealing with patients experiencing a pregnancy-related complication. A simulated patient interaction was designed for first-year residents. Specific scenarios were constructed based on challenging clinical scenarios identified by second-year residents. Non-judgmental communication, culture competency awareness and reflective listening were key skills that were taught as part of the clinical scenarios. Both acceptability and utility of the exercise with the first-years was assessed by a follow-up survey.

RESULTS: Seven first-year residents participated in the education session consisting of four physician-patient interactions with specific learning objectives for each. These first-year residents all indicated that they would employ the skills practiced during the intervention into their future practice of medicine, and that their comfort level in caring for complex obstetric patients had increased. Moreover, all first-year residents endorsed that this educational strategy was potentially applicable to other aspects of their training.

CONCLUSIONS: Simulated patient exercises can be utilized in multiple arenas to teach OB/GYN residents communication skills, while simultaneously addressing their clinical knowledge deficits. Early implementation of such a curriculum in an OB/GYN residency will lay the foundation for the development of empathetic and culturally competent physicians.

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