Original Publication
Open Access

Advanced Communication Skills Cases

Published: September 8, 2011 | 10.15766/mep_2374-8265.8367

Included in this publication:

  • Marcia Giancomello student pages.doc
  • 1 - Overview of the Advanced Communications Skills Course.doc
  • 5 - SP evaluation.doc
  • 7 - ETHNIC - A framework for culturally competent clinical practice.doc
  • 8 - Sources for Learning Issues in PBL grid.doc
  • Carson Cavanaugh facilitator's guide.doc
  • Carson Cavanaugh SP script.doc
  • Carson Cavanaugh student pages.doc
  • Lynn Jenkins facilitator's guide.doc
  • Lynn Jenkins SP script.doc
  • Lynn Jenkins student pages.doc
  • Marcia Giancomello facilitator's guide.doc
  • Marcia Giancomello SP script.doc

To view all publication components, extract (i.e., unzip) them from the downloaded .zip file.

Editor's Note: This publication predates our implementation of the Educational Summary Report in 2016 and thus displays a different format than newer publications.


These problem-based learning (PBL) cases are designed to enhance the communication skills of health care professional students by providing them an opportunity to interact with a standardized patient (SP) on various advanced topics. These cases are intended to build on basic history taking skills that students have already acquired. Topics addressed in the cases include: patient with medically unexplained physical symptoms, facilitating a triadic interview, patient with non-adherence issues, advance directives, sexual history taking, and domestic violence. These scenarios have been used with second-year medical students in a doctoring course. The sessions allow a safe environment for students to practice communication skills on patients with complicated health issues. The interactions with the standardized patients allow for dynamic discussions about different approaches to talking with patients. The students are given immediate feedback on their techniques by the facilitator, colleagues, and the standardized patients. Students who complete these sessions are often more comfortable talking to patients and reflecting on their own experiences. Small-group student evaluations have averaged 4.4 (on a 5-point Likert scale) over the last 3 years. Some qualitative student feedback includes: "The small group cases were fertile learning experiences and I consider the practice I got in role-playing and watching others role play difficult interviewing scenarios to be the most valuable instruction that I've received," and "Learning to interview patients is a wonderful and essential skill."

Educational Objectives

By the end of the module, the learner will be able to:

  1. Obtain a detailed medical history, including the sexual history and psychosocial aspects, while expressing empathy and establishing rapport.
  2. Develop a diagnostic work-up appropriate for a patient presenting with a vague history.
  3. Develop tools for enhancing treatment adherence using the ETHNIC mnemonic.
  4. Help patients cope with negative medical outcomes.
  5. Recognize their own response to patients who are non-adherent.
  6. Utilize new skills in facilitating a triadic interview.
  7. Demonstrate the ability to initiate and respond to discussions of advance directives.
  8. Demonstrate the ability to discuss domestic violence issues with a patient and develop a support plan.

Author Information

  • Sophia Chen: Rutgers New Jersey Medical School
  • Neil Kothari, MD: UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School
  • Jacqueline Anne Bartlett, MD: UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School
  • Linda Boyd, DO: Medical College of Georgia
  • Kathyann Duncan, MD: UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School
  • Stephanie Prisch, MD:

None to report.

None to report.


Chen S, Kothari N, Bartlett J, Boyd L, Duncan K, Prisch S. Advanced communication skills cases. MedEdPORTAL. 2011;7:8367. https://doi.org/10.15766/mep_2374-8265.8367