Through our NIH-funded research, we have proven that these communication skills are learnable. What’s more, we have discovered that clinicians are eager to learn when using the right method.

We started VitalTalk as a 501c3 nonprofit so that we could disseminate our research into the real world. Our innovative, interactive clinician and faculty development courses improve communication skills on an individual and institutional level.

Following the lead of social entrepreneurs, we have disrupted the ineffective continuing education model. We are charting a new route towards a culture change in patient-clinician communication.

Our community of accomplished VitalTalk faculty is comprised of clinicians who practice what they teach. Our verbal tools empower clinicians to communicate about serious illnesses empathetically and effectively, enabling them to feel less burned out in the process.

Our methodology has been perfected through years of refinement. Our evidence-based programs train clinicians in a method that is culturally sensitive, interprofessional, and oriented around patient values. In our engaging, hands-on programs, our expert strategies stick.

We’ve seen too many well-intentioned clinicians communicate in ways that led to tragic outcomes. When clinicians communicate effectively, patients retain more information, have higher trust, and a better quality of life. This patient-centered approach is the future of clinical care.

Our Founders

  • Anthony Back MD

    The landscape of patient and clinician is changing so rapidly that we have to keep innovating. I am Professor of Medicine at the University of Washington in Seattle, and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

  • Robert Arnold MD

    I never want to stop being a doctor—talking to patients and families is the best work I do. In my day job, I also direct Palliative Care at the University of Pittsburgh, where I am the Leo H. Creip Professor of Medicine.

  • Kelly Edwards PhD

    My vision is about creating trust—I want to build a network of mentors and a community of practice through VitalTalk. I’m Professor Bioethics and Humanities at the University of Washington, and Assistant Dean of The Graduate School.

  • James Tulsky MD

    One of the most gratifying things I do is create interventions that enable doctors to become better. I’m Chair, Department of Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Chief, Division of Palliative Medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital.

Our Staff

  • Jennie Dulas

    Executive Director

  • Lisa Ravenel

    Director of Programs

  • Ashley Palar

    Program Manager