IU Talk

IU Talk

Workshop Focuses on Communication Skills for Serious Illness

On September 12th, the Center for Education & Advance Care Planning brought Lyle Fettig, MD and Erin Newton, MD of the IU School of Medicine to the Mishawaka campus for our first IU Talk. The goal of this one-day workshop was to empower area physicians and nurses with the communication skills they need to discuss serious illness with their patients and families.

The workshop featured role-playing activities that allowed physicians and nurses to practice their skills in these often-difficult discussions. Fettig and Newton led the group through discussion-based interactions and encouraged participants to speak up during the course. IU Talk is designed to provide a collaborative atmosphere in which they could practice these discussions.

Another key component of the workshop is the use of actors who respond to simulated situations as the clinicians navigate new ways to begin discussions about serious illness or end-of-life issues with their “patients.” This interactive approach allowed each participant to highlight what they were doing well and add in new key ways to address difficult situations.

IU Talk is powered by VitalTalk, which grew out of research into the learnability of effective, empathetic, honest clinician communication skills. Both Fettig, who directs the IU School of Medicine Hospice and Palliative Medicine Fellowship and Newton, who is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine at the IU School of Medicine and a member of the IU Health Palliative Care team, see the program as a response to a need in the community for end-of-life training.

During the September workshop many of the physicians noted that while they utilized a few steps in the end-of-life discussion models presented, this was the first time many of them had seen a guide or process to address the issues they may face with a patient. The Center for Education & Advance Care Planning will continue to offer this interactive program to area physicians and nurses to empower them with effective communication skills in discussing serious illness and end-of-life issues.