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Transfer of communication teaching skills from university to the clinical workplace – does it happen? A mixed methods study

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Background: Communication skills learned in the classroom do not transfer easily into clinical practice because they are not reinforced by teachers in the workplace setting and because lack of faculty training restricts the transfer of communication skills in real patient encounters. Trained university-based communication skills teachers often work simultaneously as doctors in clinics. This study explored if and how the skills of these teachers play a role in communication skills training in the clinical workplace. Methods: We used an exploratory sequential design: a mixed method approach that combined a survey with communication skills teachers, and qualitative individual interviews with these teachers and their educational leaders in clinical departments. The questionnaire was analysed using descriptive statistics. The interviews were analysed using content analysis. Results: The response rate was 34 %. A majority (93 %) used their communication skills when communicating with patients and relatives. Less than half taught communication in clinical departments. Approximately half of the respondents stated that encouragement from their leaders or colleagues would inspire them to use their teaching skills in the workplace. However, only 20 % had told their leaders about their competencies in teaching communication. One third thought that they needed further teacher training to teach in the clinical workplace. Qualitative analysis showed that teaching opportunities existed but mainly consisted of random, one-off sessions that came about through the initiative of the communication skills teachers themselves. The teachers described several barriers, such as the challenge of teaching colleagues, as communication relates to identity and hierarchical structures, as well as a lack of requests from colleagues or management, and department culture prioritizing topics relating to medical expertise. None of the educational leaders made use of the teachers’ specific communication skills in a structured way: some saw it as unimportant, while others saw it as a potential resource. Conclusion: Transfer of the teaching skills of communication skills teachers trained for university-based clinical communication training happened, but to a limited degree. Although both opportunities and barriers for transferring communication skills existed, barriers seemed to dominate, and opportunities for communication skills training in the workplace setting were not used to their full potential.

OriginalsprogEngelsk
Artikelnummer433
TidsskriftBMC Medical Education
Vol/bind21
Nummer1
Antal sider11
ISSN1472-6920
DOI
StatusUdgivet - dec. 2021

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