Since 2005, Memorial Sloan Kettering’s innovative Communication Skills Training Program and Research Laboratory (Comskil) has been teaching surgeons, oncologists, nurses, and others at MSK and other institutions how to communicate with people who have cancer and their families in a productive and sensitive manner. As the nation’s first formally structured communications initiative at a comprehensive cancer center, the program aims to find the most effective and lasting approaches for guiding clinicians at all career stages in serving people with cancer. Each year, more than 100 people participate in a Comskil training.
This unique program has a dedicated staff of teachers and facilitators. The laboratory includes a classroom and six state-of-the-art video-recording training rooms. While the curriculum was developed for providing cancer care, it can be readily adapted for professionals in hospice settings and for those treating people with HIV/AIDS as well as other chronic or life-threatening diseases.
Among the areas of instruction covered are:
- sharing serious news
- discussing prognoses and treatment options
- responding to patient and caregiver anger
- identifying and addressing palliative needs
- handling issues related to end-of-life care, death, and dying
- handling challenging interactions with families
- responding empathically to patients’ concerns
- maintaining team communication
The Comskil program is primarily offered to nurses, faculty, and medical trainees at MSK. However, courses that are open to clinicians from outside MSK are held about once a year. If you are interested in learning more, please contact the Comskil program at firstname.lastname@example.org or 646-888-0001.
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