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bulletWhy bother to learn communication skills?  
bulletWhat can studying communication skills offer us as practising Health professionals
bullet Communication skills COURSES

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Visit  Skillscascade.com - the communication skills website also written and maintained by Dr Takhar

This page gives details about the importance of communication skills  and details of  courses for health professionals to learn more about this topic

Communication skills are now routinely taught to medical students and GP registrars but many of us who are principals were not given any training in this vital part of our day to day work. Younger GPs may have had some training but wish they could further develop their skills now they are in established practice.

A recent report by the BMA also recommends that all doctors undertake communication skills training as without regular opportunities for learning your skills do not progress. Most of the current proposals for reaccredidation imply communication skills will be an important component. It will also be one of the key skills relevant to Clinical Governance and revalidation.

East Anglian General Practitioners have pioneered a unique cascade of communication skills training for GP principals during the past 4 years. The first part of this initiative in Peterborough began in September 1997 with a presentation by Dr Jonathan Silverman, Regional Communication Skills Teaching Facilitator where the following questions were addressed:

Why bother to learn communication skills ? Is it important for us in our every day work as practising doctors? Are there problems in doctor-patient communication that we need to address? Are there solutions to these problems? Can learning communication skills actually make a difference? Surely it's all a matter of experience and personality - perhaps communication skills can neither be taught nor learnt?

Jonathan Silverman discussed the research evidence that answers these questions and gave a coherent justification for studying this subject. Communication is a core clinical skill: it is not simply being nice to patients or being patient-centred but an essential component that determines our clinical effectiveness. There is little point in being factually excellent if communication difficulties prevent us from understanding the patient's story or from providing a plan that the patient can understand and feel committed to put into action. Our communication skills, our knowledge base and our problem solving ability together represent the very essence of clinical practice - all three are required to be an effective doctor.   Back to top

What can studying communication skills offer us as practising GPs?

increased doctor job satisfaction

decreased conflict within the consultation

more accurate and efficient interviews

better clinical hypothesis generation

increased patient satisfaction

increased patient understanding and recall

improved compliance and disease outcome

decreased medico legal complaints

Actual savings in time

More structure and control of the difficult consultation

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In Peterborough this presentation has been followed  followed up by a series of  successful courses for GPs , trainers, nurses and other health professionals. 

  Communication skills  course LIST 
Course facilitators: DR Amrit Takhar and DR Chris Scarisbrick  

1997 Residential course , Stoke Rocheford Hall, Lincs
1998 Series of evening meetings at Peterborough Postgraduate centre
1998-9 Communication in Cancer Care - 3 day courses
Jan 1999 The Risk Conversation - communicating risk in genetics

May  1999 Day course, Haycock Hotel, Wansford, Cambs
Feb 2000 Residential course W
yboston Lakes , St Neots, Cambs  
May 2000 Day course for Trainers , Madingley hall, Cambridge
June 13th Workshop for Peterborough South Primary Care Trust

November 11th Workshop Haycock Hotel Wansford Peterborough 9-1 
November 17th
Day course for Trainers , Moller Centre, Cambridge

For further  details on courses apply to Jane Rawling
 Upwell Health Centre, Townley Close, UPWELL, PE14 9BT
or email janerawling@dial.pipex.com, phone 01945 774081, fax 01945 774082

Residential course description

The course aims to  address some of the basic issues related to communication skills.

Are the lessons from theory and research applicable to our own practice of medicine and if so, can we develop practical ways to help solve the difficulties that we ourselves face? This course will provide space and time for the group to start to look at the issues that they themselves find difficult in communication in the consultation. Together, we can then tease out how to solve our problems, explore what it is that makes for a good consultation and, in particular, identify those particular communication skills that can really make a difference to both doctors and their patients on a day to day basis. We shall have an opportunity to experiment with suggestions and to practice and rehearse new approaches that we might wish to incorporate into our own consultation styles.

            We shall try hard to create a safe and supportive environment from the outset so that we can enjoy working together in a relaxed and pleasant atmosphere. There will be a range of different teaching techniques employed including using videos of consultations and we will have the resource of an actor to rehearse particular consultation scenarios.

PGEA points varies with courses


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Reading list - clicking  on any of the links below will take you to the StudentBookWorld.com website to view Book Information and order the books online  if required

Skills for Communicating with Patients  Ideal reading for all participants

Teaching and Learning Communication Skills in Medicine This book is particularly useful to those involved in teaching Communication skills with useful course material. The evidence base for Communication skills training is thoroughly covered.

Download order form (Free postage offer)

These two texts have helped form the basis for our courses, written by Drs Silverman and Draper with Professor Kurtz from Calgary

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Last modified: July 06, 2003