Helping MDs communicate end-of-life news

Sometimes, doctors have to share the worst possible news--that a patient or their family member is dying. They may also have to tell grieving families that a loved one has passed away. Unfortunately, many physicians don't know how to get this across without seemingly excessively detached or insensitive. But Emory University School of Medicine hopes to help doctors deal with end-of-life issues more effectively, with new coursework designed to teach doctors-in-training how to communicate compassionately. The course, which is required for residents in training at the Atlanta school, involves classroom instruction and simulation exercises where actors portray family members. During the class, instructor and course developer Dr. Tammy Quest shares her experience in communicating with families in crisis, advising them to avoid euphemisms and choose their words carefully. In the simulations, meanwhile, the residents are graded on such human essentials as eye contact, body language and whether they use the impersonal language of clinical medicine.

To get more information on the curriculum:
- read this article