Medical School

Communication skills training during medical school

Med 1 (first year of medical school)

The foundations of effective patient-doctor communication

Communication skills training is incorporated into seven weeks of the Skilled Clinician's Unit during the fall semester. This training is physician-led and features:

  • One plenary session on the foundations of effective patient-doctor communication focusing on The Calgary Cambridge Guide to the Medical Interview, patient-centred clinical method and feedback skills. This is followed by small group tutorial practice sessions where you interview simulated patients, and practice giving and receiving feedback.
  • A small group skills practice session on applying communication process skills during the medical interview—where you interview simulated patients.
  • A tutorial (groups of four) focusing on "Combining Communication Process Skills with Basic Content of the Medical History", as well as addressing "Communicating Across Cultural Difference".
  • A skills practice session on combining communication process skills with basic content of the medical history—where you interview simulated patients.
  • A plenary session on emotions in the medical interview.
  • A skills practice session on emotions in the medical interview that consists of recordings of students interviewing simulated patients.
  • A review of students' recordings: emotions in the medical interview; medical students reflect on and review their patient interviews and provide feedback.

Med 2 (second year of medical school)

Practicing communication skills in case practice OSCEs

Communication skills are integrated into case practice where you perform focused patient histories and physical exams at the Centre for Collaborative Learning and Research.

Med 3 and 4 (third and fourth years of medical school)

Building communication skills competency (part of PIER units 1, 2, 3, 4)

In clerkship, you consolidate and continue to build on your communication skills focusing on more challenging patient-doctor interactions. Communication skills training takes place during the four PIER units in clerkship and include:

  • A focused session on communication skills relating to breaking bad news, end-of-life discussions and communicating empathically. Practice sessions with simulated patients are facilitated by a physician, nurse and social worker to demonstrate interprofessional collaboration.
  • A focused session on the communication skills of explanation and planning in the medical interview.
  • Physician-facilitated small group skills practice sessions which  include simulated patients and allow you to discuss and role-play in a variety of challenging patient-doctor scenarios. You will practice different or new communication strategies to enhance your skills in patient interaction.