Deepening the teaching and learning of clinical communication
The importance of reflection and feedback in health education
Aims: clinical communication (CC) relates to health professionals’ interaction with patients/families. CC is fundamental for the physicians’ role. This paper aims to contribute to the discussion about reflection and feedback for meaningful teaching and learning of CC.
Methods: the authors provided a short review and conceptual discussion of the history and nature of CC teaching, followed by exploring the role of reflection and feedback in teaching CC.
Results: communicating well can be challenging as it requires medical students and professionals to adapt their communication to each patient/family while obtaining all the needed information, conveying trustworthiness, care, and compassion. The teaching of CC to medical students involves deepening the doctor-patient relationship’s technical, relational, and emotional elements. CC requires teaching that is flexible and tailored to the participants’ needs. Therefore, teaching CC must go beyond asking the appropriate question or applying specific checklist-based behaviours. In teaching CC, it is crucial to give medical students support to discuss personal and institutional barriers and attitudes and explore how to transfer their learning to clinical practice. To that end, reflection should be encouraged to allow students to express difficulties and feelings and enhance their understanding of themselves and others. Within this process, feedback is essential to moving beyond skill-based teaching to reflection-based learning.
Conclusion: the move from skills-based learning requires using reflective processes and feedback to allow students to learn about their communication tendencies and needs to become more flexible and attuned to different patient’s needs in clinical encounters.
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