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 Table of Contents  
LETTER TO EDITOR
Year : 2021  |  Volume : 6  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 110-111

Teaching the Indian medical graduates “Empathetic Communication Skills” toward cancer patients and their family donors


1 Department of Immunohematology and Blood Transfusion, Himalayan Institute of Medical Sciences, Swami Rama Himalayan University, Jolly Grant Dehradun, Uttarakhand, India
2 Department of Pediatrics, Division of Pediatric Oncology and BMT, Himalayan Institute of Medical Sciences, Swami Rama Himalayan University, Jolly Grant Dehradun, Uttarakhand, India

Date of Submission22-Dec-2020
Date of Decision02-Feb-2020
Date of Acceptance02-Feb-2021
Date of Web Publication29-May-2021

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Manish Raturi
Department of Immunohematology and Blood Transfusion, Himalayan Institute of Medical Sciences, Swami Rama Himalayan University, Jolly Grant Dehradun, Uttarakhand
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/gjtm.gjtm_117_20

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How to cite this article:
Raturi M, Das K. Teaching the Indian medical graduates “Empathetic Communication Skills” toward cancer patients and their family donors. Glob J Transfus Med 2021;6:110-1

How to cite this URL:
Raturi M, Das K. Teaching the Indian medical graduates “Empathetic Communication Skills” toward cancer patients and their family donors. Glob J Transfus Med [serial online] 2021 [cited 2021 Dec 7];6:110-1. Available from: https://www.gjtmonline.com/text.asp?2021/6/1/110/317122



Sir,

Today, the transfusion medicine specialist (TMS) plays an overtly noticeable role in the society with a primary function to help optimize the ongoing transfusion medicine (TM) practices, both within the framework of the hospital and for the community at large.[1] Unlike my co-author, a pediatric hemato-oncologist (HO), my specialization has been that of a practicing TMS for the past decade. Previously, as a trainee, there was a quick realization to care for patients suffering from life-threatening conditions, including hematological malignancies. The choice made to select TM was both for the science of the disease and for the opportunity to help the sufferers live a disease-free life with the use of a hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HPSC). In fact, there has been a deep sense of building relationships with not just the HPSC recipients but also their family donors who offer their HPSC and/or blood components. More so, we must realize that the donor-doctor–patient relationship can grow stronger with better communication strategies (CS).[2],[3] In certain instances, these relationships are not just therapeutic, rather sustaining too. In fact, one must ask, “What is the CS that a physician needs to bring to the table while dealing with the sick (patients) as well as the healthy (donors)? In addition, how can we instill and foster these CS within us, our budding MBBS graduates (BMGs), interns, and peers?” Therefore, in our pursuit to seek answers, we started exploring these questions with BMG, interns, and senior faculty including professors. While being at our alma mater, we organized a communications' retreat for both BMGs and interns with the aid of our peers in bone marrow transplant clinics and hospice care. The pattern defined was that of the directly observed procedural skills (DOPS) in conformance with the Attitude, Ethics and Communications (AETCOM) module offered by the Medical Council of the Indian subcontinent.[4] While, an HO needs to know how to break the bad news to the family members on experiencing the deaths of their patients, our TMS peers need proper training in donor-centered communication. Consequently, for a day, these BMGs and interns were engaged in a combination of learning-centered assignments, including simulations, role-playing, and small-group discussions (SGD) with an active demonstration of DOPS. Based on their inputs, we devised on their inputs, we devised certain real-life scenarios that simulated both blood donors and the cancer sufferers. It was also an opportunity for the faculty to provide their “frank suggestions” and therefore benefit the minds of the trainees immensely to guide different career paths at their own disposition.[5] Additionally, we encouraged a compassion oriented reflection in the SGD, wherein the participants could voice their opinions without anyone getting judged. Interestingly, while, working with our BMG and interns, it became quite evident that, although they are specialized in presenting the studies, lecturing and teaching students; they deserve further help to improve CS when interacting with patients and their families. Furthermore, interns often carry an intriguing position: they definitely know more than they did as medical graduates, however, they have much more to learn before they can become physicians or professors. In fact, sometimes they have a tendency to “teach” patients or give “mini lectures,” because they want to demonstrate the knowledge they have attained. In a bit of a rush to establish their “new found competence,” they often end up providing a plethora of data instead of bonding and responding empathetically to the patients and/or their blood donor's varied emotions. Undoubtedly, the key was to realize that maybe we should “talk less and listen more” [“Maātu kalime, hecchu āalisi” famous quote in Kannada spoken language]. To sum up, “compassion is the key element” and practicing compassionate CS should, therefore, be the core focus of the AETCOM module while preparing a quality driven Indian medical graduate having an “empathetic approach” towards all.

Acknowledgment

The authors would like to gratefully thank Dr. Anuradha Kusum, Professor and Head, Department of Pathology, Himalayan Institute of Medical Sciences, Swami Rama Himalayan University, Swami Ram Nagar, Jolly Grant Dehradun, for her kind help toward the critical appraisal of the manuscript and her valuable suggestions.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
  References Top

1.
Raturi M, Das S. Recognizing the role of transfusion medicine specialist in the modern era. Transfus Clin Biol 2020;27:270-2.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Fallowfield LJ, Jenkins VA, Beveridge HA. Truth may hurt but deceit hurts more: Communication in palliative care. Palliat Med 2002;16:297-303.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Drane JF. Honesty in medicine: Should doctors tell the truth? Am J Bioeth. 2002;2:14-17  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Mitra J, Saha I. Attitude and communication module in medical curriculum: Rationality and challenges. Indian J Public Health 2016;60:95-8.  Back to cited text no. 4
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  
5.
ASH Clinical News. Refining Patient-Doctor Communication. Available from: https://www.ashclinicalnews.org/education/refining-patient-doctor-communication/. [Last accessed on 2020 Dec 12].  Back to cited text no. 5
    




 

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