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The fine art of communication in general practice


Read about our new workshop exploring complex communication in primary care – breaking bad news, end of life conversation and more…

Communication skills are uniquely relevant in the general practice setting, because no other medical practitioner offers the continuity of care that GPs afford their patients. This workshop, conducted by the multiple award-winning Pam McLean Centre, will address some of the most challenging communications in the context of the long-term doctor-patient relationship – breaking bad news, open disclosure following an adverse event, and initiating discussions about treatment options at the end of life. The common theme is talking about things our patients really don’t want to talk about.

Models abound – SPIKES, ABCDE, BREAKS, ISBAR etc. And models have their place. But putting the models into practice can sometimes be surprisingly hard. This workshop allows us to put theory into practice through trial-and-error, working with a highly trained professional actor to negotiate step-by-step through the maze of emotionally-charged communication. Just like learning to intubate on mannequins, working with actors allows us to try various approaches to communication safe in the knowledge that no-one gets hurt. The workshop is based on rigorous research, including one of Prof Dunn’s PhD student’s projects, which measured heart rate and skin conductance in doctors whilst they told a woman that her husband had just died. The results will surprise you.

In this workshop, you will meet two patients (played by two of our most experienced actors) who present all these challenges in a panorama of multiple presentations. There are options to practise the delivery of bad news in different emotional contexts, and to explore appropriate responses to an angry relative when there has been a serious adverse event. Finally we will investigate ways of initiating and supporting discussions around disease progression. You will have the opportunity to stop the consultation at any time and seek feedback from the patient and from other workshop participants. And Prof Dunn will provide insights from the relevant literature to help us along the path.

Sign up to our Complex Communication in Health Care learning module here.

Dealing with Bad Health News Masterclass – Limited Places Only


Don’t miss out on the opportunity to attend the 2017 AMA National Conference at the Sofitel on Collins, Melbourne, from 26– 28 May for a rare and unique glimpse into medico-politics, global health issues and contentious contemporary health policies.

One of the key highlights at this year’s Conference is a pre-conference masterclass facilitated by Professor Stewart Dunn. This hands-on experiential one day workshop will focus on developing doctors’ communication skills in breaking bad health news, dealing with bad health news and end of life conversations through interactive role plays. The workshop will help you understand and interpret human behaviour by recognising, identifying and responding to the most common emotional reactions.

Pre-conference masterclass – details

  • Time: 9:30 – 5:00
  • Date: Thursday, May 25, 2017
  • Venue: Sofitel, 25 Collins Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000
  • Tickets: Conference attendees – $660, AMA members – $770, non-AMA members – $880

Register here for the workshop

Click here to find out more about the AMA National Conference, or contact the Conference organisers at natcon@ama.com.au.

This is an RACGP accredited activity for Category 1 ACRRM Core PDP points. Discounts on registration for AMA members.