Meeting the Students on Their Own Territory

  • Angela Rowlands Lecturer in Clinical Communication Skills and Academic Support, Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, UK
  • Annie Cushing Head of Clinical Communication Skills, Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London, UK
  • Vivien Cook Reader in Medical Education, Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London, UK
Keywords: communication skills, work-based learning, feedback

Abstract

Background

Medical students receive communication skills training but there is little research into how effectively, or indeed whether, these skills can be transferred into clinical settings. This paper reflects upon a project aimed at supporting students in communicating with patients
in clinical settings during their undergraduate years.

Method
During 2012, 36 year medical students were directly observed leading consultations with real patients in in-patient settings by a communications skills expert. Each observed session involved focused feedback on performance and agreeing areas for future practice involving a student peer and the member of faculty.

Results and Discussion
Students positively evaluated this work-based experience, specifically, valuing the authenticity of engaging with ‘real patients’ in ‘real settings’. They reported learning to deal with environmental issues such as noise, interruptions – the hallmark of busy clinical settings. They gained from observing the Communication Skills teacher model effective communication within the consultation process and receiving immediate focused one-to-one feedback. Moreover, they were able to maximise the feedback through immediately applying it to further consultations. The challenges of rolling out such a programme to more students are discussed.

Implications
Observed practice in work-based settings helps students to recontextualise knowledge learnt in the classroom setting. Their learning is greatly enhanced by having the supported opportunity to apply their skills in an authentic setting. However, implementing such a project can be resource intensive and logistically challenging.

Author Biography

Angela Rowlands, Lecturer in Clinical Communication Skills and Academic Support, Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, UK

Angela Rowlands, 1st Floor, Robin Brook Centre, St Bartholomew’s Hospital, West Smithfield, London
EC1, UK
Email: a.rowlands@qmul.ac.uk, Phone: +44 (0)207 822 8928

References

PBLH, Vol 1, Issue 1 (June 2013)
The Higher Education Academy doi:10.11120/pblh.2013.00008
Published
2016-01-19