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Impact of a faculty development programme for teaching communication skills on participants’ practice
  1. Noelle Junod Perron1,2,
  2. Stephane Cullati3,
  3. Patricia Hudelson4,
  4. Mathieu Nendaz2,5,
  5. Diana Dolmans6,
  6. Cees van der Vleuten6
  1. 1Division of Primary Care, Department of Community Care, Primary Care and Emergency, Geneva University Hospitals, Geneva, Switzerland
  2. 2Unit of Development and Research in Medical Education, University of Geneva Faculty of Medicine, Geneva, Switzerland
  3. 3Quality of Care Service, Medical Directorate, Geneva University Hospitals, Geneva, Switzerland
  4. 4Department of Community Care, Primary Care and Emergency, Geneva University Hospitals, Geneva, Switzerland
  5. 5Department of Internal Medicine, Rehabilitation and Geriatric Medicine, Geneva, Switzerland
  6. 6Department for Educational Development and Research, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands
  1. Correspondence to Dr Noelle Junod Perron, Division of Primary Care, Department of community care, primary care and emergency, Geneva University Hospitals, 4 rue Gabrielle Perret-Gentil, 1211 Geneva 4, Switzerland; noelle.junod{at}


Purpose of the study A 6-month faculty development programme was designed to improve supervisors’ feedback to junior doctors on their clinical communication skills (CS) and included both CS and teaching skills training. The aim of this study was to assess supervisors’ views on the impact of the programme on their subsequent teaching and communication practice.

Study design 28 clinical supervisors at the Geneva University Hospitals, from either inpatient or outpatient settings (general internists or primary care specialists), undertook a six-session faculty development programme, between 2009 and 2011, and each completed a short questionnaire before and 1 month after the course. Between 3 and 6 months after the course, the participants were interviewed about their views on the impact of the course on their practice using a semistructured interview. Interviews were audiotaped and transcribed verbatim and analysed thematically.

Results The percentage of participants who reported teaching CS at least once a week had increased from 5/26 (19%) to 8/26 (30%), p=0.07. Participants reported using teaching skills, especially giving structured feedback. Use of newly acquired teaching skills was more likely when participants had protected time for teaching or were involved in formal teaching activities. Even participants who reported minimal teaching activity found the newly acquired CS to be useful, both with their own patients and in other professional situations. The few participants who explicitly reported teaching regularly CS in practice had generally become formal teachers in CS training.

Conclusions A faculty development programme on how to teach CS is perceived to be useful by clinical supervisors to acquire new skills, but using them in the workplace appears to depend on creation of a supportive environment with protected time for teaching. Involving supervisors in formal communication teaching may be one way to ensure continued use of newly learned teaching skills.

  • communication skills
  • faculty programme; transfer
  • teaching
  • practice

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