By: Dr Katherine Miles
There was a buzz as twenty-five doctors of different levels and specialties as well as two dentists acted out role-plays in small groups.
Some were acting as patients, others relatives and others doctors as they practiced the skills they had just learnt about how to break bad news. This was one of the scenes from the first Communication Skills Workshop held from October 23rd – 27th, 2010 at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Aden University. It was a small triumph to gather so many specialists, even across faculties, to work together to develop their communication skills with patients.
How doctors talk with patients is of major importance during medical consultations, and research has shown that the skills needed to communicate effectively with patients can be taught and retained by medical staff. Furthermore, improved communication leads to increased job satisfaction for doctors and more importantly, improved outcomes of care for patients. This means that patients and communities are healthier.
Unfortunately, the current situation in Yemen is that medical students and doctors are poorly prepared for communicating effectively with patients and there is a great need for expert training in this area. Following the identification of this need, a DelPHE (Development Partnerships in Higher Education) Project proposal “To Incorporate a Communication Skills Syllabus into the Medical Curriculum at Aden University” was submitted by Aden University, Yemen and University of East Anglia, UK, with support from Cambridge University, UK. The DelPHE Project will run for 3 years and is funded by the British Council and Department for International Development, UK. The aim of DelPHE projects is to build and strengthen the capacity of Higher Education Institutions to contribute towards the Millennium Development Goals (such as the reduction of maternal and infant mortality) and promote science and technology related knowledge and skills.