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Piedmont Athens Regional GME Program

1270 Prince Avenue, Suite 102
Athens, GA 30606

Art of Doctoring (AoD)

Teaching residents the “Art of Doctoring” - lessons of professionalism, nuanced communication, or empathy - remains challenging. We designed an integrated humanities-based curriculum that is married to scientific analysis. We adhered to three key principles:

  1. Link sessions to a parallel curriculum. As residents learn EBM and clinical skills, AoD sessions reinforce professionalism, risk, prognosis, diagnosis and treatment by offering an alternative “humanities-based” approach.
  2. Selected readings are linked, local and concise. Each memoir, poem, or video assigned is married to a more “analytic” treatment of that same topic. Whenever possible, we will use Georgia authors for the added value of the cultural content that their writings contain while keeping reading assignments short.
  3. Put readings into practice. Since the nature of assignments in humanities curricula fundamentally depart from basic science courses, a key component to success is to make the sessions inherently practical. Residents use humanities sources to solve authentic scenarios, i.e., how to deliver bad news. From this approach, we developed the course component with examples from each theme:
  • Professionalism: Explores the “virtues” that characterize exemplary physicians. In groups, residents critique the professional virtues of physicians such as Dr. Paul Farmer and Dr. Sanjay Gupta from writings about them, among others.
  • Risk: While learning about risk ratios, residents explore the nature of risky behavior, read biographic narratives of physicians impaired by addiction, and study predictors of such risky behaviors. Residents apply these readings and concepts to confronting an impaired colleague.
  • Prognosis: We explore both the patient and the physician experience of dealing with a poor prognosis and have residents then apply learned concepts by articulating how they would deliver bad news. From examples such as Jerome Groopman’s Anatomy of Hope, residents learn about an oncology fellow grappling with a patient’s grim prognosis. Poet James Dickey: a patient’s perspective with his challenging poem Diabetes and When Breath Becomes Air by Dr. Paul Kalanithi, about a neurosurgery resident who is diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer.
  • Diagnosis: When exploring the nature of medical decision-making, residents will examine medical errors through a closer look at safety practices in the airline industry. Selected readings and modules include NEJM Quality Series and AMA Ethics modules. After reading a scientific treatment of how errors are minimized in aviation, residents view the NOVA documentary The Deadliest Plane Crash. Lessons are put into practice by analyzing error scenarios in small groups during PSQI conferences.
  • Treatment: In an interactive large group session, residents will explore the nature of persuasive language and analyze pharmaceutical commercials against the framework of the classic “Message-learning Approach” of Hovland. Review EBM studies on how communication affects patient behavior, such as improving adherence by using positive language and open-ended questions.
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