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1. Describe the evidence from a limited body of literature on the role of qualitative research in communication skills training for clinical trainees
2. Explain how qualitative and communication research participation impacts clinical and research trainees
Clinical communication training is often simulated and cross-sectional, with infrequent and inconsistent exposure to real, in-depth, difficult communication encounters. Qualitative researchers manage large repositories of recorded medical dialogue; however, the potential for leveraging this untapped resource to strengthen trainee communication skills is unknown.
To explore how participation in qualitative research influences trainees in clinical and research fields.
We brought together a 17-member multidisciplinary team of students, staff, and faculty with recent qualitative and communication research experience, including child life specialists, advanced practice health care professionals, undergraduate/medical students, residents, fellows, attending physicians, social scientists, and career researchers, to discuss this topic. The authors developed a formal discussion guide, and team members generated thought content through a verbal discussion, supplemented afterward by written responses to question items. Content analysis was used to identify concepts and themes, followed by member checking.
We identified five key themes related to the influence of qualitative research on learners: development of communication skills, empathy, and compassion for aspiring clinicians; development of research skills for aspiring scientists; guidance for teaching, mentoring, and program development for educators; inspiration for continued self-reflection on communication for lifelong learners; and reminders to always consider the adversity people face in our role as community members. Participants emphasized that qualitative research learning extended beyond coding and analysis to improving their understanding of patient/family lived experiences, preparing them for future clinical encounters, strengthening their emotional intelligence, and promoting self-care, resilience, and professional affirmation.
Qualitative research experiences for trainees facilitate self-perceived development of important skills: improving communication, strengthening empathy and compassion, providing tools for medical education and research, and building resilience.
Exposing clinical trainees to communication encounters through in-depth participation in qualitative research projects has the potential to enhance clinical and research skills, including self-perceived communication competency. Further research is needed to understand the benefits of medical education and qualitative research partnerships to develop immersion-based communication learning.
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