Effective communication skills are central to contemporary medical practice. The manner in which a physician communicates with patients is inextricably linked with patient compliance, emotional adjustment, and performance expectations.1,2,3,4 Improvements in provider-patient communications have been shown to positively impact patient outcomes,5 and have been directly associated with overall patient satisfaction.3,6,7,8 Finally, patients who believe that their providers communicate with them well are less likely to initiate law suits against their providers.9
Professionalism and communication skills are enumerated by the American College of Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) as core-competencies, which are difficult to teach and objectively evaluate. In many of the medical and surgical specialties, increasing time constraints and a growing number of technical skills have drastically reduced the time that can be committed towards fostering these humanistic aspects of medical care.10,11,12,13 As a result, communication skills are often left up to the trainee to learn by observation, or by trial and error. This may create fear, anxiety, and discomfort for the trainee as well as suboptimal care for the patient.11,13
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