Teaching personal awareness

Department of General Internal Medicine, College of Human Medicine, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA.
Journal of General Internal Medicine (Impact Factor: 3.42). 03/2005; 20(2):201-7. DOI: 10.1111/j.1525-1497.2005.40212.x
Source: PubMed


Educators rarely consider the attitudes that determine whether a learner will use the clinical skills we teach. Nevertheless, many learners and practitioners exhibit negative attitudes that can impede the use of patient-centered skills, leading to an isolated focus upon disease and impairing the provider-patient relationship. The problem is compounded because these attitudes often are incompletely recognized by learners and therefore are difficult to change without help.
We present a research-based method for teaching personal awareness of unrecognized and often harmful attitudes. We propose that primary care clinicians without mental health training can follow this method to teach students, residents, faculty, and practitioners. Such teachers/mentors need to possess an abiding interest in the personal dimension, patience with a slowly evolving process of awareness, and the ability to establish strong, ongoing relationships with learners. Personal awareness teaching may occur during instruction in basic interviewing skills but works best if systematically incorporated throughout training.

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    • "This is consistent with the above theoretical perspectives [12] [27] and addresses the learner's emotions and ability to self-reflect. These are the key determinants of whether learners will actually use patientcentered skills to address psychosocial and mental health problems [25] [28] [29]. Additionally, only this personal work can produce the motivation, state of mind, and professional identity needed for becoming a more broadly based physician [12] [27]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Many express concern that modern medicine fails to provide adequate psychosocial and mental health care. Our educational system has not trained the primary care providers who care for most of these patients. Our objective here is to propose a quantum change: prepare residents and students during all years of training so that they are as effective in treating psychosocial and mental health issues as they are medical problems. We operationalize this objective, following Kern, by developing an intensive 3-year curriculum in psychosocial and mental health care for medical residents based on models with a strong evidence-base. We report an intensive curriculum that can guide others with similar training interests and also initiate the conversation about how best to prepare residency graduates to provide effective mental health and psychosocial care. Identifying specific curricula informs education policy-makers of the specific requirements they will need to meet if psychosocial and mental health training are to improve. Training residents in mental health will lead to improved care for this very prevalent primary care population.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2013 · Patient Education and Counseling
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    • "Essential in developing skills, we focused on attitude development in three areas: (1) using learner-centered approaches to foster life-long learning and collaborative agenda setting [29–32]; (2) enhancing learner–teacher relationships using the same interactional skills with trainees that we were teaching them to use with patients; e.g., NURS; (3) focusing on personal awareness of one's own emotions in a group setting [33]. As basic PCC skills were mastered, more time was spent on personal awareness, frequently addressing emotional issues that can interfere with successful team work; e.g., feeling humiliated or afraid of failure [15]. "
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    Full-text · Article · Jul 2011 · Patient Education and Counseling
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    • "Many educators teach self-awareness to achieve attitudinal objectives within the context of communication skills training. The educator helps participants to reflect on their thoughts and emotions directly after interactions, and to consider the origins of their thoughts, feelings and attitudes to deepen personal awareness (Smith et al, 2005). "
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