Macy Initiative in Health Communication

Undergraduate Curriculum Initiative

Eight curriculum development projects were selected for implementation in the 2000-01 academic year.

1. Improving Oral Case Presentations on Surgical Patients

Project Director: Timothy Counihan, MD, UMass

Clerkship-Specific Curriculum: Surgery Clerkship

Project Goal: To develop a curriculum to standardize the method and quality of the oral case presentation in the Surgery Clerkship. Curriculum will consist of: a pre- and post-test for all students; a series of didactic sessions on how to give accurate, quality oral presentations; and practice sessions with real-time feedback from faculty.

2. Improving Student Communication Skills in Medical Informatics

Project Directors: Frank Domino, MD; Peg Spinner, MLIS, UMass

Clerkship-Specific Curriculum: Family Medicine Clerkship

Project Goal: To develop students’ skills in utilizing electronic resources to convert a patient problem into a searchable format, conduct a literature search, and effectively communicate that information to both patients and colleagues. A key aspect of the project is to define skills relevant to communicating about evidence-based medicine and other technology-driven information. The curriculum will involve a collaboration between the Family Medicine Clerkship and the UMass Medical School library, which houses the databases and resources for teaching about evidence-based medicine and medical informatics.

3. The Delivery of Bad News to Patients and Families

Project Director: Laurie Demmer, MD, UMass

Integrated Curriculum: OB/GYN and Pediatric clerkships

Project Goal: To develop students’ skills in delivering bad news to parents regarding their fetus and/or child, with a particular focus on communicating in the areas of genetic counseling, risk assessment and birth defects.

4. Communicating on Difficult Topics in Women’s Health: Overcoming Embarassment or Personal Bias to Establish Therapeutic Relationships

Project Directors: Theodore Peskin, MD; Katharine O’Dell, CNM, UMass Memorial

Clerkship-Specific Curriculum: OB/GYN Clerkship

Project Goal: To develop a curriculum to enhance communication skills in the following major areas: 1) helping patients deal with unplanned pregnancy, including values clarification; options counseling; outcome planning; and 2) in collaboration with Proposal 6, communicating about sexual issues, including sexual history-taking; overview of issues for women in same-sex relationships; and counseling re: modification of high-risk sexual behavior.

5. Enhancing Physician/Patient Communication in Nutrition

Project Directors: Steve Hardy, MD; Connie Cardasis, PhD; Lynn Manfred, MD, UMass

Integrated Curriculum: Nutrition Interclerkship and Pediatric Clerkship

Project Goal: Major objectives are to enhance students’ability to: communicate with patients and their families, in written and oral formats, about common nutritional problems; sensitively take a nutritional history including assessment of patient's use of complementary and non-traditional nutritionally-based remedies and food supplements; and communicate with other health care providers, including registered dietitians, nurses and representatives of social service agencies, to optimize care.

6. Fostering Communication About Sexuality as Central to Comprehensive Health Care

Project Directors: Stan Sack, MD, Fallon Clinic; Ellen Perrin, MD, UMass Division of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics; Brad Drabant, MS-2

Integrated Curriculum: Medicine, Family Medicine, Pediatrics, Psychiatry clerkships at UMass; also linked with OB-GYN clerkship project 4 above

Project Goal: To develop an integrated, multidisciplinary curriculum spanning five required clerkships, to enhance students’ communication skills with patients regarding sexuality, sexual health, and sexual identity. Topics include: comprehensive sexual history and ethical/legal issues, in Family Medicine; communicating about HIV in primary care setting and "difficult interview" case in Medicine; adolescent sexual health and working with children of same sex parents in Pediatrics; medication-related sexual dysfunction, and integration of rape/sexual assault issue within an "interview session" case in Psychiatry; and sexual history-taking and overview of issues for women in same-sex relationships and counseling re: modification of high-risk sexual behavior in OB/GYN clerkship (aspect of proposal 4 above).

7. Expansion of Standardized Patient Program Diversity

Project Directors: Warren Ferguson, MD; Mick Godkin, PhD; Wendy Gammon, MA, MEd

Resource Development: Use anticipated across the curriculum

Project Goal: This project seeks to develop a pool of 15 culturally-diverse Standardized Patients: 12 to reflect the cultural/ethnic composition of the Worcester community, e.g., Latino, Vietnamese, and black African; and 3 to role-play patients who are in same-sex relationships. The goal is to develop a resource base of culturally diverse SPs who will be utilized across the curriculum, including the Culture in Medicine Interclerkship, the core clerkships, and the Physician, Patient and Society course, as well as in faculty development.

8. Cross-Cultural Communication Initiative

Project Directors: Warren Ferguson, MD, Mick Godkin, PhD, with Wendy Gammon, MA, MEd, Richard Aghababian, MD, and Djiby Diop, MD

Interclerkship Curriculum

Project Goal: This project is focused on the development of students’ cultural competency and cross-cultural communication skills in a variety of settings. The centerpiece of this effort is the development of a new Interclerkship, whose goal is to cover the essential knowledge, skills and attitudes currently not covered in the rest of the curriculum. In addition, this group, led by Drs. Ferguson and Godkin, will oversee the integration of cross-cultural competencies and communication skills across all four years of the curriculum.

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