On Guiding Patients

Cultivate Your Skills:

When we started out, we thought that ‘see one, do one, teach one’ was the way you learned to communicate. We were wrong.

Communication is not something you can do by watching someone once. It turns out that skill acquisition is surprisingly complex. Like other skills, the bottom line is that you need to practice. And to make the practice count, you need role models, a map to follow, and feedback. 

Many clinicians assume that communication, like sex appeal, is something you are born with. The reality is that expert clinicians work on their skills—but until recently, there were few guides about developing communication skill beyond the medical school or nursing school level. Our take is that medical school isn’t enough. As physicians or other clinicians become more technically specialized, they need to re-integrate their technical expertise with their communication skills. What you learned as a second year student won’t get you through an oncology fellowship, or an oncology career. At Vital Talk we are aiming to fill this need, and we’re basing our work on the research in how people learn that is emerging now.

If you want to work on your skills as a teacher—realize that teaching others requires more than good communication skills of your own. Check out the stuff we’ve got for educators.