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      Focus Foundation Winter 2014 

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    • Difficult Conversations: R&E Grant Addresses Increasing Role for Radiologists

    • More than ever, radiologists are facing heightened communication responsibilities with patients and their families. It is now more common for the radiologist to discuss unexpected or challenging diagnoses, disclose medical errors or address radiation safety concerns. These communication responsibilities require radiologists to convey cognitively complex information under emotionally charged conditions.

      As this new communication paradigm has rapidly evolved, Stephen D. Brown, M.D., an assistant professor of radiology at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, noted there are very few educational opportunities available to help radiologists acquire the skills necessary to approach these conversations effectively. With a 2011 GE Healthcare/RSNA Education Scholar Grant, Dr. Brown developed the Program to

      Enhance Relational and Communication Skills for Radiologists (PERCS-Radiology) to address this need and to enhance radiologists’ confidence and skills when communicating with patients about these difficult topics. To develop a holistic offering, Dr. Brown recruited faculty facilitators Elaine C. Meyer, Ph.D., R.N., an associate professor of psychology in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Director of the Institute for Professionalism and Ethical Practice at Boston Children’s Hospital; and Michael J. Callahan, M.D., an assistant professor of radiology at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. The team’s combined expertise encompasses clinical radiology, ethics, radiation risks and healthcare communication pedagogy.

      Initially offered to trainees at Boston Children’s Hospital, the PERCS-Radiology course has been completed by more than 200 individuals, including practicing radiologists, radiology trainees, non-radiologist practicing physicians, nurses, technologists, medical interpreters and child life specialists.

      As the program evolves, it has not only made an impact on the program participants but in the press as well. “This year, we received favorable attention in the media and academic press, including articles in the Boston Globe and Academic Radiology. PERCS-Radiology has also been featured as an ACR “Imaging 3.0 Case Study,” said Dr. Brown. “This coverage has lead to inquiries from individual radiologists, radiology program directors and the Harvard Business School. We have been asked by these parties to offer communication workshops for them, tailored to their specific needs, and to help them develop communication skills training curricula of their own. This type of recognition is crucial to advancing"

      “PERCS-Radiology has been successful, with promising potential for several expected publications, effective dissemination and ongoing viability,” Dr. Brown continued. “We are truly grateful to the RSNA Research & Education Foundation for the opportunity.” For additional information regarding PERCS-Radiology, or questions about implementing similar workshops at your practice, please contact Dr. Brown at stephen.brown@childrens.harvard.edu, and/or visit the PERCS website at www. ipepweb.org.

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