Training Doctors to Communicate with Teens
One of the most satisfying parts of my job as a peer leader at the Center for Young Women’s Health (CYWH) is working at the Resident Training sessions. Under the supervision of seasoned adolescent medicine staff doctors here at Bosten Children’s Hospital, the CYWH peer leaders provide residents with an opportunity to practice their communication skills with teens like me, through mock interviews.
Prior to the mock interviews, the peer leaders meet with the doctor in charge of the session to discuss the character(s) we will play. The character does not reflect our personal lives, rather the character has problems that a new doctor might find challenging to discuss with a patient. If one peer leader decides to take on the role of a girl who has unprotected sex, another may choose a character that drinks alcohol on a regular basis or suffers from depression. The peer leaders try to have a range of characters that have different personalities and situations to “mix it up” and give the residents a variety of learning opportunities.
During the interview, the peer leaders who are observing the session take notes and complete an evaluation. The peer leaders and residents then discuss the outcomes. Those who were observing tell the residents what they liked about the interview and offer constructive criticism on how to enhance communication. Even though being “evaluated” sounds like an intimidating process, it’s a great way to provide feedback and help the residents discuss certain topics that can sometimes be uncomfortable or awkward to talk about, especially with teens.
When I first started participating in the Resident Training sessions, I had no idea how important these meetings were, but I’ve quickly realized how much these interviews mean to both the residents and the peer leaders. As a senior peer leader, my goal is to have a positive impact on the hospital’s mission, which includes providing a forum where doctors can refine their interviewing skills and become better clinicians.