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Increasing Communication Skills Targeted for Decreasing Medical Malpractice in Virginia

An article in the Virginian-Pilot describes the new path medical school administrators are taking to improve physicians’ ability to talk and listen to patients and other health care providers, including other doctors, nurses and pharmacists.

At the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Research Institute, in Roanoke, Virginia (VA), the nation’s newest institution for educating med students, administrators decided against accepting students solely on test scores, interviews and grades. Instead, they have begun administering multiple mini interviews -- MMIs -- to applicants in order to see how potential students listen, interact and communicate with others. MMIs are spreading, and eight medical schools in the United States are now using them, as are 13 med schools in Canada.

Virginia Tech Carilion administrators have created questions to see how quickly a student can think on their feet and work in teams.

“We are trying to weed out the students who look great on paper but haven’t developed the people or communication skills we think are important,” Dr. Stephen Workman, associate dean for admissions and administration at Virginia Tech Carilion, told the nespaper.

Teamwork and communication is a big part of medicine today. Medical students should be able to clearly communicate with the patient and other doctors as well as collaborate as a team. When dealing with surgeries and procedures the patient, doctor, and physician assistants need to have clear communication on what is about to be performed. Breakdowns in communication are a leading causes of medical errors, which cause tens of thousands of deaths each year.

Being able to talk with and listen to other doctors or patients help both the doctor and patient understand exactly what is going to happen and the risk that goes along with it. Not only will communication between patients and doctors help obtain consent for procedures, it also will cut down on patients’ lawsuits because families are more willing to forgive mistakes if they like their doctor. Virginia Tech Carilion’s new approach on the admission process could go a long way with future doctors and surgeons, teaching them the proper way to listen and communicate. 



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