(Advanced Communication Training)
In recent years there has been an increasing recognition of the importance of non-technical skills and human factors training in medical education. Strong communication and interpersonal skills are crucial to good clinical practice. These are of particular relevance when communicating with team members, relatives and patients in challenging situations. We identified a lack of postgraduate training opportunities for paediatric trainees to develop these skills.
As a result we designed the A.C.T up course which ran for the first time on 28th April 2017. It involved a unique collaboration between the simulation team in the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children (RBHSC), the school of arts and drama at Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) and the school of psychology in QUB. We recruited a diverse faculty consisting of drama students, paediatricians, social workers, nurses and psychologists. Candidates participated in high fidelity simulated scenarios based on challenging clinical situations and designed to allow senior paediatric trainees to develop their communication skills. Examples included safeguarding cases, the sudden unexpected death of an infant and discussions around withdrawal of care.
Feedback was collected using pre- and post-course questionnaires and focus groups. Overall this was excellent. All candidates reported increased confidence in managing each of the clinical scenarios. There was a unanimous agreement amongst candidates and faculty that the use of drama students significantly enhanced the quality of the course. Candidates said:
‘The drama students were fantastic and made the scenarios very realistic and therefore more challenging.’
‘communication with the actors was very realistic’
‘In our training we don’t get the opportunity to speak to parents in cases of safeguarding and death – often the consultant deals with these cases. This course gives the opportunity to practice this for when we are the consultant!’
In addition the drama students found the course useful stating that they appreciated the opportunity to share techniques with the medical staff and also identified it as a ‘great way for drama students to practice improvisation’.
We hope to continue to run this course on a regular basis and to embed it into a module entitled ‘Drama, health and social care’ within the undergraduate drama curriculum at QUB. We will also be leading a workshop at the upcoming NISHFN conference in October and hope that you can join us there to learn more!
Dr Ben McNaughten, Dr Rory Sweeney, Dr Paul Murphy,
Dr Thomas Bourke & Dr Andrew Thompson