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Smith's Patient-Centered Interviewing: An Evidence-Based Method, 3rd edition. 2012, McGraw-Hill.

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Suggested citation style:

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Fortin, A.H., VI, F.C. Dwamena, R.M. Frankel, and R.C. Smith, Teaching supplement. In: Smith's Patient-Centered Interviewing: An Evidence-Based Method. 2012, New York: McGraw-Hill.

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The student text, Smith's Patient-Centered Interviewing: An Evidence-Based Method (McGraw-Hill 2012), details the steps involved in medical interviewing, a challenging, complex and ultimately rewarding task for clinicians.1 Teaching interviewing to students can be a demanding undertaking.24 Not only must we be expert interviewers ourselves, we must also understand the educational principles required to effectively teach interviewing to others. We may be faced with learners who are busy, sometimes more interested in biomedicine, and who on occasion may view interviewing, particularly patient-centered interviewing, as too “touchy-feely” or as irrelevant to their concerns about becoming “real” doctors. Despite these understandable tensions, we can recall that most students are very interested in interviewing and that they are especially enthused by their first real exposure to clinical medicine. We have an eager, receptive audience for our introduction to the most central skill in medicine—a superb opportunity for establishing a biopsychosocial atmosphere. Most students want to be good clinicians and know that they must be good interviewers to reach their goal.

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Our own experiences in teaching interviewing revealed firsthand how difficult it can be. We first had to brush up on our own interviewing skills—and found that feedback on a regular basis was invaluable. Recording interviews in the clinic self-critiquing them and, better yet, having a peer or learner provide feedback has been most useful. The usual standard in medicine of “see one, do one, teach one” does not work very well for improving interviewing skills.

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Intensive training for instructors can be useful and has been helpful to all of us. The American Academy on Communication in Healthcare (AACH) [www.aachonline.org] offers an annual course for clinicians to improve their interviewing and teaching skills. AACH also offers a facilitator-in-training (FIT) program, where participants learn small group facilitation skills for teaching the medical interview under the direct guidance of national and international experts. The program usually takes from 3–4 years, according to one's needs and time available for training, and involves work at the FIT's home institution and at multiple national sites.

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Regular meetings of local groups of instructors can enhance by marshaling the considerable existing expertise that exists in many schools and programs throughout the country. Local training is particularly effective if both medical and mental health professionals are involved and if the work includes personal awareness development. A combination of national and local activities is ideal.

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With this backdrop, we want now to describe how one might structure the teaching process for “Interviewing 101.” We do not address advanced interviewing skills involving the integration of personal awareness training with the more mechanical tasks ...

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