Comskil: Communication Skills Training Program & Research Laboratory

Since 2005, Memorial Sloan Kettering’s innovative Communication Skills Training Program and Research Laboratory (Comskil) has been teaching surgeons, oncologists, and others at MSK and other institutions how to communicate with patients in a productive and sensitive manner. As the nation’s first formally structured communications initiative at a comprehensive cancer center, we aim to find the most effective and durable approaches for guiding physicians at all career stages to adapt to serving oncology patients.
Our unique program has a dedicated staff of facilitators and laboratory space, including a classroom and six video-recording training rooms equipped with state-of-the-art technology. And while our curriculum has been developed for cancer care, it is readily adapted to hospice and professionals treating patients with HIV/AIDS as well as other chronic and life-threatening diseases.

Comskil Course Topics 

Among other areas of instruction, we cover:
  • relaying bad news
  • discussing prognoses and treatment options
  • responding to patient and caregiver anger
  • assisting in the transition to palliative care
  • handling issues related to end-of-life care, death, and dying

Comskil participants include fellows, residents, and attending physicians in practice at MSK and other U.S. institutions. Each year, approximately 100 MSK fellows and residents participate in a Comskil course as part of their oncology training.

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Patricia A. Parker

Patricia A. Parker

Director, Communication Skills Training and Research Program

Smita C. Banerjee

Smita C. Banerjee

Behavioral Scientist

Philip A. Bialer, MD

Philip A. Bialer

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William S. Breitbart, MD -- Vice Chair, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences; Chief, Psychiatry Service

William S. Breitbart

Chair, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences; Chief, Psychiatry Service; Jimmie C. Holland Chair

Matthew N. Doolittle

Matthew N. Doolittle

Julia A. Kearney

Julia A. Kearney

Talia I. Zaider, PhD

Talia I. Zaider