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Vital Conversations: An Interactive Conflict Resolution Training Session for Fourth-Year Medical Students

  • Gunasingha, Rathnayaka Mudiyanselage1
  • Knudsen, Nancy2
  • Scialla, Timothy3
  • Shepherd, Amanda4
  • Clay, Alison5
  • 1 Resident, Department of Surgery, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center
  • 2 Professor, Department of Anesthesiology, and Associate Professor, Department of Surgery, Duke University School of Medicine
  • 3 Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, Duke University School of Medicine
  • 4 Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine
  • 5 Assistant Professor, Department of Surgery, and Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, Duke University School of Medicine
Published Article
MedEdPORTAL : the Journal of Teaching and Learning Resources
Association of American Medical Colleges
Publication Date
Jan 25, 2021
DOI: 10.15766/mep_2374-8265.11074
PMID: 33511271
PMCID: PMC7830754
PubMed Central
  • Original Publication


Introduction The AAMC has recognized the importance of effective teamwork and collaboration. One core Entrustable Professional Activity emphasizes creating a climate of mutual respect and trust and prioritizing team needs over personal needs, which leads to safe, timely, effective, efficient, and equitable patient care. Relationship conflicts, specifically, are associated with decreased productivity, complex information processing, and work satisfaction. Given the prevalence of conflict and its impact on health care workers, the lack of conflict resolution curricula in undergraduate medical education is surprising. We developed a curriculum formally introducing these skills and allowing practice in a simulated environment before students entered residency. Methods Fourth-year medical students completed a conflict resolution exercise in a mandatory transition-to-residency course. Students completed online prework including reflection on teamwork and information on conflict resolution styles, participated in a simulated conflict with a standardized patient acting as a nurse, and afterward completed a self-evaluation with video review by the students' assigned coach and feedback on the session. Results We collected complete responses from 108 students. We evaluated the curriculum for feasibility and acceptability by faculty and students. Most students agreed with faculty on their entrustment and milestone levels. Students found that the session prompted self-reflection and was a good review of conflict resolution. The standardized patient and faculty feedback was found to be the most useful by the students. Discussion We successfully implemented a simulated but realistic conflict resolution exercise. Students found the exercise helpful in their preparation for residency.

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