Professors use film to teach doctor-patient communication
Issue date: 4/21/06 Section: Sci-Tech
DUCoM and the American Academy on Physician and Patient have come together with Arthur Vining Davis Foundations to produce doc.com, an online educational resource for medical schools. The Web site features instructional modules that focus on specific types of doctor-patient interactions, such as "Giving Bad News" or "Responding to Strong Emotions." Each module is presented by an expert doctor (or group of doctors) with expertise in that area of communication.
In each module, students can watch video clips of the expert doctor role-playing the appropriate and inappropriate ways to interact with patients. Students can then view patient and doctor commentaries, which further explain the characteristics of successful doctor-patient interaction. The modules also include background information and test questions for the students to answer.
Two professors from DUCoM, Dennis Novack and Christof Daetwyler, are part of the team creating the video clips for the innovative new teaching tool. They have both drawn on their unique medical backgrounds to bring this project to life.
Novack's interest in doctor-patient communication began during his time as a student at Hahnemann. Like many young doctors, he was motivated by the challenge of diagnosing and treating the diseases that patients presented. As he spent more time interacting with actual patients, however, he began to see inadequacies in the treatment they received.
"[Patients] were being regarded more for the intellectual challenges they posed than being seen as human beings who are suffering... I realized I didn't want to take care of patients that way," Novack said.
Novack was not alone. He joined a group of internists and psychiatrists studying under George Engel, the psychiatrist who developed the biopsychosocial model. Engel first described the model, which views the mind and body as two connected systems that interact to influence a person's health, in the late '70s. Some of Engel's students went on to found the American Academy on Physician and Patient (AAPP), which produces educational programs and materials on doctor-patient communication.
Novack, a member of the AAPP for over 25 years, was recently featured in a PBS documentary entitled The New Medicine. The documentary looked at the growing interest in doctor-patient communication and the importance of the mind-body connection in the healing process. The program followed Novack's first-year students as they examined "standardized patients," lay people trained to behave as patients with specific diseases. These standardized patient interactions are intended to not only improve the students' ability to diagnose disease, but also to increase their sensitivity to the needs of the patient and improve their self-awareness.