Background: Emergency physicians are confronted daily with emotional situations. Whether it be frustration due to long wait times or sadness during a goals of care discussion, emotional patients and families often present communication challenges. Being equipped to respond to emotions with empathy is integral to emergency medicine, yet our literature review found few descriptions for teaching empathic communication in EM residency programs. We developed an interactive educational game (Cards to Promote Humanity) to address this gap.
Objective: We set out to develop an interactive session blending large-group didactics with a small-group simulation activity to meet the following objectives: Residents will (1) practice responding with empathy to emotional cues during a simulated clinical encounter and (2) identify at least one new communication skill they can implement in clinical practice.
Methods: Prior to starting the Cards to Promote Humanity game, residents were introduced to several strategies for articulating empathy via a large-group didactic. Content was adapted from the VitalTalk communication skills curriculum. Groups of 5 to 6 PGY1-3 residents were then paired with a facilitator to participate in a 30-minute game session to practice these skills. Pre- and post-exercise surveys were conducted to measure the efficacy of the didactics and game.
Outcomes: 84 percent of participants agreed “Cards to Promote Humanity” was an effective method to practice responding to emotion. Some desired more time during the game to discuss different clinical scenarios. All participants were able to identify at least one new communication skill to implement in their clinical practice.