What is it about?

Communication remains challenging to teach and evaluate. We implemented a customized, simulation-based curriculum on communication for anesthesia residents and used an online patient survey to assess the communication skills of the residents before and after the curricular intervention.

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Why is it important?

Residents who were not initially scored perfectly performed better overall after completing their customized coursework. This is despite very high initial scores. The rating was done by patients, demonstrating a measurable outcome in the clinical setting.

Perspectives

Patient level outcomes have rarely been demonstrated in the realm of communication. Customizable curricula conceptually make sense for goals such as this, but I believe this is a unique demonstration of their value. Using a mixed intervention of live simulation and/or online viewing with reflective questions opens the work up to some potential criticism, but the reflective component remains similar whether done at the live session or online. Measured changes were small, but consistently detectable with a variety of statistical methods and given the high baseline measurements and importance of the impact of communication on patient interactions, I believe they are relevant. While not randomized, other cohort studies have shown that communication skills do not change over time and we applied several statistical methods to address this issue. I hope that others can adopt similar strategies and look forward to additional work and collaboration in this area.

John Mitchell
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School

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This page is a summary of: Customizable Curriculum to Enhance Resident Communication Skills, Anesthesia & Analgesia, February 2019, Wolters Kluwer Health, DOI: 10.1213/ane.0000000000004084.
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