Purpose: This paper discusses an innovative multi-disciplinary approach to the development and evaluation of flexible, digital clinical communication learning resources to support students in twelve health disciplines to develop clinical communication skills in preparation for their clinical placements. Methods: A modified Delphi survey was sent to all stakeholders in the Division of Health Sciences to identify the most important communication skills from the list of 61 communication skills identified by Bachmann et al in 2013. Lecturers, clinical educators, clinicians, and students were invited to rate the importance of each skill. Results: A set of digital resources was created for teaching clinical communication to students across all years and disciplines and for use by clinical educators in the Division to prepare students for clinical placement. In addition, an effective methodology for course development, involving broad consultation and multi-disciplinary development teams comprised of clinicians and other educational experts, was developed. The resources were implemented in two disciplines, podiatry and midwifery, and evaluated pre- and post-placement using a qualitative and quantitative method developed with the course coordinators. Conclusions: There are identifiable clinical communication skills which are applicable across numerous health disciplines and as for other learnable skills, teaching can be enhanced by breaking them down into specific, demonstrable elements which students can observe and practice. Using the pedagogy and methods outlined in the paper, students demonstrated increased awareness of the importance of communication in the clinical context, and the capacity to evaluate their performance of those skills.
This research contributed to a Master of Health Professional Education study at the University of Notre Dame Australia under the supervision of Professor Chris Hackett PhD and Associate Professor Elina Tor PhD. We would also like to acknowledge Dr Hayley Uden, the course coordinator of Podiatry, Jane Coffee, and Anne Lonie for her work on the resource website.
Cominos N, Thoirs K, Harper R, Cross G, Cooper M. Making it Work for Everyone: Developing Flexible Digital Clinical Communication Modules for Health Disciplines in an Australian Context. The Internet Journal of Allied Health Sciences and Practice. 2021 Jan 01;19(3), Article 13.