Sunday, 22 February 2009

Teaching "strong relationships"

It is almost a cliche (but like most cliches, based on fact) that medical schools take varied, bright, positive, caring, students, fill them full of science and facts (with a bit of communication skills tacked on the side) and turn them into efficient machines for managing hospitals stays of patients. There is no evidence to suggest that the bad effects of this process have been addressed by recent changes in medical training.

Perhaps as a result of this, people have become increasingly disenchanted with their relationships with their doctors with complaints increasing, whilst many doctors move out of the profession or take early retirement - not finding the passion and fulfillment that they went into the profession for. But a few pioneering medical schools in the States are attempting to rewrite medical education and produce doctors who love their jobs and patients who love their doctors. (Seems like rather a sensible goal).

A study released in January's Academic Medicine profiles a program at Indiana University as well as four other U.S. medical schools that sought to teach faculty members a different way of instructing medical students. The curriculum highlights the human dimensions of care, such as the need to communicate effectively, show compassion and build strong relationships.

As covered before on "Experience Matters", such "human dimensions" predict great clinical outcomes, happy patients and satisfied doctors. Not only should they be a major part of all medical school training, but such education and support should be part of lifelong professional development for all healthcare professionals. Most doctors know this is essential and embrace it, the others might do well to question why it was that they went into medicine.

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