Joanna Petrides, PsyD, Meagan Vermeulen, MD
Communication is a key factor in making or breaking the physician-patient relationship, yet medical schools often struggle to teach these skills effectively, thus leaving physicians often struggling in this domain throughout residency and beyond. Learning how to effectively address difficult topics and challenging patients is crucial to strengthening the physician-patient relationship and minimizing the impact these scenarios have on physician well-being. In this presentation, we will review our use of an Integrated Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) for training resident physicians in the art of communication. This was developed to teach residents effective tools to broach difficult topics with patients, such as medication seeking behaviors and screening and education for substance use disorders. Through collaboration with psychology doctoral students, acting as standardized patients in validated, simulated case presentations, our residents practiced vital communication skills and received immediate one-on-one feedback which was followed by a faculty-led, interdisciplinary group debriefing session. Our presentation will share the obstacles, benefits and outcomes involved in creating this teaching tool. We will also review the value of the debrief sessions, which served to highlight various approaches available to physicians to strengthen communication skills and provided tools for teaching behavioral health interventions to patients. These sessions also addressed the effect of challenging patients on resident physician well-being and provided interventional guidance on protecting themselves from burnout that can be heightened by challenging patient encounters. Summaries of the cases used will be shared along with specific feedback provided by the psychology doctoral students to the residents.