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“Patient's Family Wants an Update”: A Curriculum for Senior Medical Students to Deliver Telephone Updates for Hospitalized Patients

  • Edwards, Christopher J.
  • Fitzgerald, James T.
  • Heidemann, Lauren A.
Published Article
MedEdPORTAL : the Journal of Teaching and Learning Resources
Association of American Medical Colleges
Publication Date
May 20, 2022
DOI: 10.15766/mep_2374-8265.11256
PMID: 35664551
PMCID: PMC9120304
PubMed Central
  • Original Publication


Introduction Residents have the important task of updating family members of hospitalized patients, often by telephone. There are limited curricula dedicated to preparing medical students for this task, which will become their responsibility as residents. Methods We created a virtual workshop, including four patient cases, to facilitate teaching senior medical students enrolled in an internal medicine residency preparation course. Students alternated role-playing either physician or family member. We assessed performance using a self-assessment rubric before (preworkshop) and after (postworkshop) a didactic session. We compared pre- and postworkshop scores using t tests. We also used a retrospective pre-post survey with a 5-point Likert scale to assess each participant's comfort level, knowledge, and perceived ability. Results Thirty-nine students completed the pre- and postworkshop evaluation (response rate: 70%). The mean score on the preworkshop self-assessment was 83% ( SD = 9%) and on the postworkshop self-assessment was 94% ( SD = 8%; p < .01), with a large effect size of 1.22. Among the 31 students (62%) who completed the survey, there was improvement in comfort level (2.9 vs. 3.7, p < .001), knowledge (2.7 vs. 3.8, p < .001), and perceived ability (2.9 vs. 3.7, p < .001). Discussion Our workshop was effective in teaching medical students a structured format for providing telephone updates and was well received. The workshop was also effective when delivered virtually (with videos off) to mimic the non-face-to-face communication that occurs when delivering family updates by telephone. The curriculum could be expanded to other learner groups.

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