Health communication training for physicians: a qualitative study among UFS medical students
Complaints from patients about their doctors' communication have been on the increase during the past decades .. A certain group of researchers are of the opinion that doctors find themselves fully in the world of human sciences as they are working with psychologicallyburdened people all the time, whilst others suggest that doctors are "pure" scientists, dealing only with diseases and sick bodies. In view of the overburdened schedule of medical students trying to cope with various medical curricula, communication as a fully-incorporated subject has not been high on the international agenda. However, a literature and applied research study has shown a definite shift of perspective toward the need for focused communication education. Although there is general agreement about the inferior quality of communication in the medical context emanating from health professionals, it is extremely difficult to pinpoint the locus of communication barriers. Medical students at the UFS, excluding first-years, were asked to participate in a qualitative study on the necessity of communication training in their fomzal curricula. The majority of students emphasised the need for practical communication training, and viewed the areas of empathy, listening, interviewing and nonverbal communication as crucially important. An emphasis on skills proved to be critical, whilst the students indicated a definite need for practical skills training during all years of training.