April 2020 Faculty Development Tip: Trauma-Informed Approach in Medical Education Settings

Trauma-Informed Approach in Medical Education Settings

Ruth Frydman, M.D.

Psychological trauma is common. In the United States, 61 percent of men and 51 percent of women report exposure to at least one lifetime traumatic event, and 90 percent of clients in public behavioral health care settings have experienced trauma. 1SAMHSA website: www.integration.samhsa.gov/clinical-practice/trauma    2/13/20

Psychological trauma results from “an event, set of events, or set of circumstances that is experienced by an individual as physically or emotionally harmful or life threatening and has lasting adverse effects on the individual’s functioning and mental, physical, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being.”2 p.7, SAMHSA.

People who have experienced trauma may feel unsafe in situations that remind them of their trauma. Trauma survivors have been in situations where they did not have a voice or safe choices. They may continue to experience shame or guilt and may tend to isolate to protect themselves.

Trauma is a violation of a person’s sense of self control and personal power.  Trauma survivors are sensitive to power differences in relationships, and these power differences are inherent to  healthcare settings.  Lack of awareness on the part of the provider can lead to a learner or patient getting re-traumatized and breakdown in communication that can result in significant barriers to delivering care.

All of us–faculty, learners, staff, and patients–can benefit from improving the learning climate where we work, train, and receive care.  Attending staff and residents are role models for medical students, so modeling trauma-informed care and relationships can have a ripple effect on learners, staff, and patients.

Learners may have experienced earlier trauma and/or maltreatment during medical education.  This can impact the quality of the treatment provided if their own personal trauma history is impacted by an unhealthy work environment.

Akin to universal precautions, we can minimize trauma and re-traumatization in healthcare settings by using the following principles in our work with trainees, colleagues, and patients:

6 key principles of a trauma-informed approach:

  1. Safety — provide and promote physical and emotional safety in our work and teaching settings e.g. treating students with respect, avoiding giving constructive or negative feedback in ways or places that could result in public humiliation.
  2. Trustworthiness and Transparency — building and maintaining trust, participating in clear communication g. setting clear expectations for learners for rotation goals and accountability, giving learners timely and honest feedback, modeling clear boundaries.
  3. Peer Support — mutual self-help, getting feedback from peers e.g access to resources such as medical student support group, peer-to-peer type programming, time to talk with other learners who may also have struggled or be struggling.
  4. Collaboration and Mutuality — shared decision making, less hierarchical e.g. teacher can model and promote collaboration and mutuality in patient care for learners and can model team based leadership appropriate for learner’s level of training
  5. Empowerment, Voice and Choice — shared decision making, promoting resilience, supporting goals, providing choice and promoting an environment where people can share without fear of negative repercussions e.g. finding out learner’s goals for the rotation; modeling shared decision making with patients;  modeling and respecting advocacy skills in learners, staff, and patients.
  6. Cultural, Historical, and Gender Issues — working on treating others with respect knowing that there are power differences that pervade our culture; understanding some have experienced cultural and historical trauma and that some have experienced trauma based on gender and gender identity; g not making assumptions about learners based on their background, displaying signage or symbols that show support for groups facing discrimination such as rainbow symbols or sharing preferred pronouns to increase sense of safety for LGBTQ people (must be backed up by behavior and attitudes).2

Use of this approach can help engage and empower people, as well as reduce trauma reactive anger and aggression. It can help make our teaching and clinical settings more psychologically safe.

A trauma-informed approach to teaching and clinical work is best supported when the larger organization is committed to using policies to support this.  At Maine Behavioral Healthcare, we are working on becoming a trauma-informed organization.

For more information on the trauma-informed approach and trauma-informed organizations, see SAMHSA’s, Concepts on Trauma and Guidance for a Trauma-Informed Approach listed below.,2

Endnotes:

  1. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and Health Resources Services Administration. SAHMSA-HRSA Center for Integrated Health Solutions: Trauma. http://www.integration.samhsa.gov/clinical-practice/trauma. Accessed February 13, 2020.
  2. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. SAMHSA’s Concept of Trauma and Guidance for a Trauma-Informed Approach. In. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; 2014:7, 10-11.

Questions for discussion:

Why should we have universal precautions regarding psychological trauma?

What are trauma-informed principles?

How might these principles be applied to working with learners?  Please give concrete examples

What are barriers you face in implementing a trauma-informed approach?  How might you address these barriers?

Goals to take away from this months tip:

-understand the high prevalence of trauma

-understand the concept of universal precautions

-develop tools for implementing the 6 principles of trauma-informed approach with respect to teaching and creating a psychologically safe learning environment

February 2020 Faculty Development-Teaching Emotional Resilience in Difficult Clinical Experiences

MITE Monthly Tip – Teaching Emotional Resilience in Difficult Clinical Experiences 

Thomas Reynolds, DO

Burnout is a common problem amongst medical professionals and trainees.  Medical education experts have been studying this problem and developing curricula to help teach faculty, residents, and students about promoting resilience and preventing burnout after a difficult clinical experience such as what is described in “The AAP Resilience in the Face of Grief and Loss Curriculum.”

Because poor patient outcomes and high acuity clinical experiences are common in medical student and post graduate education, this curriculum highlights certain areas that are representative of opportunities to both promote resilience and teach future medical professionals about how to manage these problems in both themselves and future trainees. These areas include understanding grief and loss, communicating with families about severe and terminal illnesses, managing emotions after difficult clinical experiences, and introducing concepts to combat burnout through personal wellness.

Using these difficult clinical experiences as opportunities to train medical students and residents how to participate in and manage a debriefing session represents an area where all levels of providers can learn to manage emotions in an attempt to promote resilience and prevent burnout.  Additionally, the inclusion of all members of the health care team in a debriefing session can be quite meaningful for all involved.

Medical educators can keep the following basic steps in mind after having a difficult clinical experience that involves trainees or health care providers at any level:

  • Recognize how a provider’s response to grief and loss can either interfere with a patient/family’s experience or may comfort the patient/family and help the provider cope as well
    • For example, try engaging with the patient and family about your own emotional responses to these situations in front of your learners as this can help both the patient/family and the learners to embrace rather than suppress these difficult feelings
  • Integrate one’s response to a difficult experience including acknowledgement of guilt, anger, or sadness into a safe discussion of the event and how to manage these feelings
    • Actively include your conscious recognition of these feelings in the discussion
  • Conduct a debriefing meeting to analyze the experience, identify one’s own emotions, consider perceptions of the various team members, and help team members reach closure
    • Find a place and time to debrief with the team about how you handled the difficult situation with the patient/family, what went well, and what you might adjust in future conversations
  • Practice the above with trainees of all disciplines and at all levels as they work through difficult rotations where acuity and mortality may be elevated
    • Its critical to allow more senior learners to both lead the discussions with patients/families and to run the debriefing sessions as well

Reference:

Serwint JR, Bostwick S, Burke AE, et al. The AAP Resilience in the Face of Grief and Loss Curriculum. Pediatrics. 2016;138(5):e20160791

Tips for Being a Mentee

Tips for Being a Mentee

Rebecca Hutchinson, MD

Many of us have benefited from excellent mentors who have given their time, expertise and guidance to help us develop to our fullest potential.  Please see earlier MITE tip (link here to July 2018 MITE tip) on characteristics of great mentors, which include enthusiasm for the project and mentee, tailored career guidance, dedicated time, encouraging work-life balance and serving as a role model for mentorship.  In this tip, I’d like to focus on strategies to use as a mentee to maximize your gain from your relationship with your mentor.

  1. Be the driver.1-3 Mentors are busy people who have many competing demands.  You’ll get the biggest bang for your buck if you take ownership and responsibility for determining what to discuss in the mentorship meeting.  Come prepared; identify in advance the ways in which this particular mentor might be able to help you before your meeting.1,3 It’s also important to evaluate your mentor-mentee relationship intermittently to ensure that it is helping you meet your goals; don’t stay in a relationship out of obligation.3  There are tools that can help you evaluate the utility of a particular mentor relationship.4
  2. Let yourself struggle a little – but not too much — before asking for help.3 You’ll learn and develop more if you take risks and try to solve some problems on your own.  On the other hand, you won’t be productive if you spend too much time stymied by a road block.  The balance between reaching out and struggling through is dependent on the particular mentor-mentee relationship; don’t be afraid to ask for feedback in your mentorship meeting about this.
  3. Show gratitude for, and be respectful of your mentors time.2 Your mentor is a busy person.  If you’re hoping to submit an abstract or you need your mentor to write you a recommendation letter, make sure to allow a reasonable amount of time.  One week is the minimum to review an abstract; several weeks are necessary for a letter of recommendation.  If you’re not sure, check-in with your mentor about what a reasonable amount of time might be for the task.
  4. Be enthusiastic and accountable.3 Having a positive attitude and being accountable goes a long way.  Set specific, measurable goals with deadlines, and then meet the deadlines you set!  If you didn’t meet the deadline, be clear about why not.
  5. Have regular meetings and take notes during these meetings. Meeting regularly is a key component of mentorship.3  Take notes during your meetings.  Some experts recommend keeping a “mentoring journal” where you keep all of your notes in one place.3,5
  6. Be open to feedback and remember feedback is bidirectional.2,3 Be open to feedback and try to see it as opportunities for growth and development.  If your mentor edits your writing and there’s more red than black, don’t take the editing personally.   Also, remember that you can give your mentor feedback; UCSF has a template for feedback that is helpful.5
  7. Mutually agree on format of communication.3,5 Your mentor might mostly communicate through email and may not use text messages for professional interactions.  Have a conversation early in your relationship to understand your mentors preferred method of communication.

 

 

 

Straus SE, Chatur F, Taylor M. Issues in the mentor–mentee relationship in academic medicine: A qualitative study. Academic medicine. 2009;84(1):135-139.

Straus SE, Johnson MO, Marquez C, Feldman MD. Characteristics of successful and failed mentoring relationships: a qualitative study across two academic health centers. Academic medicine: journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges. 2013;88(1):82.

Moores LK, Holley AB, Collen JF. Working With a Mentor: Effective Strategies During Fellowship and Early Career. Chest. 2018;153(4):799-804.

Wadhwa V, Nagy P, Chhabra A, Lee CS. How effective are your mentoring relationships? Mentoring quiz for residents. Current problems in diagnostic radiology. 2017;46(1):3-5.

Faculty Mentoring Toolkit. https://academicaffairs.ucsf.edu/ccfl/media/UCSF_Faculty_Mentoring_Program_Toolkit.pdf. Accessed September 26, 2019.

 

Want CME Credit for reading this tip?? Go Here: https://mainehealth.cloud-cme.com/MITEmonthlytipoctober

 

Electronic Communication with Patients

Electronic Communication with Patients

Annabelle Rae C. Norwood, MD

Electronic communication has now become a routine part of clinical practice. A lot of non-urgent communication with patients and their providers now occur through on-line channels such as secure messaging and e-mails.  In particular, MaineHealth is highly encouraging patients to sign-up for and utilize MyChart, wherein patients can directly send messages to their providers. As such, there may be a need for medical educators and health care institutions to provide more guidance and education about this topic. (1) It has been shown that electronic communication with patients, can actually improve patient care and outcomes such as improved medication adherence (2). However, everyone communicating with patients through these online portals should be cognizant of privacy, confidentiality concerns, and HIPAA rules. Therefore, communication with patients should only occur in secure networks and not through personal e-mails, and definitely not social media. Institutions themselves, however, should also reinforce with patients that online communication should be only about non-urgent matters such as refill requests, that messages should be brief and descriptive and that these messages are going to be a part of the medical record (3).

There are also certain business e-mail etiquette (4) that may be applied to answering patient communication.

  1. Use a professional salutation. “Hi”, “Hello” or a more formal “Dear (name)” are all appropriate salutations. “Hey”, “Hiya” or “Yo” are not.
  2. Try to answer messages in a timely manner. Two business days is usually standard. It may also to just help the patient acknowledge that you have received the message, even if you don’t have an answer right away.
  3. Don’t send angry messages. In that rare instance where a patient were to send offensive or threatening e-mail, in one study analyzing secure messages in two Veterans Administration health care centers, offensive or threatening messages only comprised 0.2% of all messages sent. (5) Formulate an appropriate response when you’re calmer is better.   It would also be good to bring up this situation to your supervisor or team on how best to address this patient’s concern.
  4. Avoid using abbreviations like LOL, writing in all CAPS, using emoticons and using a string of exclamation points!!!!! These are not professional.
  5. Proofread your messages before sending them.

References

  1. A critical appraisal of guidelines for electronic communication between patients and clinicians: the need to modernize current recommendations. Joy L Lee, Marianne S Matthias, Nir Menachemi, Richard M Frankel, Michael Weiner. 4, 2018, Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, Vol. 25, pp. 413-418.
  2. Creatine a synergy effect: A cluster randomized controlled trial testing the effect of a tailored multimedia intervention on patient outcomes. Annemiek J Linn, Lisetvan Dijk, Julia C M van Weert, Beniam G Gebeyehu, Ad A van Bedegraven, Edith G Smit. 8, s.l. : Patient Education and Counseling, 2018, Patient Education and Counseling , Vol. 101, pp. 1419-1426.
  3. Expanding the gidelines for electronic communication with patients: Application to a specific tool. Stephanie L Prady, Dierdre Norris, John E Lester, Daniel B Hoch. 4, 2001, Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, Vol. 8, pp. 344-348.
  4. Whitmore, Jacqueline. The Do’s and Don’ts of Email Etiquette. [Online] 2016. [Cited: May 28, 2019.] https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/272780.
  5. An analysis of patient-provider secure messaging at two Veterans Health Administration medical centers: message content and resolution through secure messaging. Stephanie L Shimada, Beth Ann Petrakis, James A Rothendler, Maryan Zirkle, Shibei Zhao, Hua Feng, Gammae M Fix, Mustafa Ozkaynak, Tracy Martin, Sharon A Johnson, Bengisu Tulu, Howard S Gordon, Steven R Simon, Susan S Woods. 5, 2017, Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, Vol. 24, pp. 942-949.

Mastering Millennial Mentoring

MITE Monthly Tip: April 2019-Angela M.  Leclerc, PA-C

Mastering Millennial Mentoring

Generation gaps between teacher and learner are encountered every 10-20 years. Generations are shaped by unique historical circumstances.  Currently, millennials make up approximately 25 % of our workforce and this will increase to 40% and 75% of the workforce in 2020 and 2025 (1).  Adapting to changes in expectations and work habits is imperative to educating learners, preparing future master educators and fostering productive mentoring relationships.

Millennials are frequently labeled to be distracted, impatient, entitled and too engaged in social media and not infrequently found to be on personal device during moments of teaching.  These labels are often misguided.  This generational cohort has been dubbed the “digital natives” with most of their lives accompanied by rapid expansion in technologies, having information and instant communication at their fingertips within seconds.   The millennials have been characterized to appreciate honesty, instant feedback and collaboration. (2)

Here are some tips when mentoring millennials:

Tip What they desire How you deliver
Micromentoring accessibility, frequent short meetings, fast responses Hold brief meetings on narrow topics to discuss progress.  Meetings would be about a single topic with a focused question or set of questions to be addressed.
Reverse mentoring flat leadership structure Find strengths of the mentee, perhaps social media as a means of disseminating research, journal club and networking, harness and promote their unique leadership abilities
Mentorship teams collaboration A team of mentors, interdisciplinary, providing cognitive diversity and the ability to capitalize on the individuals strengths

Adapted from Chopra V1,2, Arora VM3, Saint S1,2. Will You Be My Mentor?-Four Archetypes to Help Mentees Succeed in Academic Medicine. JAMA Intern Med. 2018 Feb 1;178(2):175-176

Finally, the millennial generation has been shaped by the #metoo era.   I agree with the author in JAMA, Mentoring in the Era of #MeToo, with her fears of gender-based neglect.  I most certainly harbor a great amount of empathy for those women who have suffered from sexual harassment and sometimes worse.  However, many of my mentors have been male and have professionally influenced my practice and career path and are close colleagues of mine, likely for life.

The author refers to key behaviors exhibited by her male mentors:

  • Always demonstrate exemplary professional behavior during and outside of the work day (never compromised by alcohol consumption or flirtatious interactions)
  • Behave comfortably, but as if others are watching, demonstrating integrity
  • Refrain from physical touch except in larger social settings where you may give a hug in greeting.
  • Never mention anything about appearance or appearance of others and avoid generalizing comments about gender
  • Text with important or urgent things, and sometimes just very funny things, but never anything that wouldn’t share with either spouses.
  • Most importantly, they have chosen to speak up to support women while other men have chosen to sit quietly or, worse, offend (4)

 

References

  1. Waljee JF1, Chopra V2, Saint S3. Mentoring Millennials. 2018 Apr 17;319(15):1547-1548
  2. Williams VN1, Medina J2, Medina A3, Clifton S4. Bridging the Millennial generation Expectation Gap: Perspectives and Strategies for Physician and Interprofessional Faculty. Am J Med Sci. 2017 Feb;353(2):109-115
  3. Chopra V1,2, Arora VM3, Saint S1,2. Will You Be My Mentor?-Four Archetypes to Help Mentees Succeed in Academic Medicine. JAMA Intern Med. 2018 Feb 1;178(2):175-176
  4. Byerley JS. Mentoring in the Era of #MeToo. JAMA. 2018;319(12):1199-1200

A Compassionate Script

A Compassionate Script-Kathryn Brouillette, MD

With stressors abounding of record-level hospital census, the opioid epidemic, flu season, the holiday rush and the day-to-day grind of showing up for work while also managing household IADLs, I hope to offer a little salve for burnout.

It is simply compassion, the root meaning of which is to suffer or feel (-passion) with (com-) another person, in this case, our patients and their families. A quick reminder as to what compassion is not[i]:

  • Pity or sympathy
  • Kindness
  • Benevolence
  • Social justice

Compassion is much more specific, regarding a particular person’s feelings about the present situation.   It requires[ii]:

  • Imagination, as we put ourselves in another’s circumstance.
  • Intimacy, as we learn of the hardships of another.
  • Honesty
  • Time

Providers may suffer atrophy in these qualities as their medical education and careers progress.  These are, however, precisely the items touted to be antidotes to burnout[iii], litigation[iv], and medical error[v].  How do we get them back into our lives, our patients’ lives, manage the patient’s care safely, and still make it home on time for dinner?

One possible answer of many: fake it till you make it.  Use a script, perhaps this one:

  • Sit down when you speak with a patient. Lean towards your patient.
  • Ask your patients to tell you about themselves in an open-ended way: “Tell me about your family. Where are you from?  How do you like to spend your free time?”
  • Let them speak, without interruption, for at least 2 minutes.
  • Find something you share in common with them, e.g. “I grew up in a small town as well…”
  • Offer information about yourself, perhaps even revealing some of your own vulnerability. e.g. “I really miss my family around the holidays, too, especially since my parents died.” Gentle humor can sometimes be appreciated
  • After gathering the necessary history/information and performing your exam. Use supportive statements as the history is recounted, e.g. “Oh my, that sounds very scary.” Summarize your thoughts on their case using plain language. If you have uncertainty about the diagnosis, tell them and explain why.
  • As you are leaving, provide supportive statements, e.g. “I am with you”; “I hear you”; “Let’s get you feeling better”; “You’re not alone”; or “I’ll be thinking about your care tonight.”

These added minutes do take time, but the payouts include:

  • A closer rapport with your patient, who will be more likely to divulge important information regarding symptoms.
  • An enriching human interaction for both provider and patient
  • A patient who feels both validated and cared for is more likely to comply with medical therapies.
  • Better medical outcomes for patients and providers.

Whether it is second nature to you, or something that takes practice, compassionate interactions, just like apathy, can be infectious.  Try to share them as much as you can.

 

 

 

[i] Pence, Gregory E.  Can Compassion Be Taught?  Journal of Medical Ethics. 1983, 9, 189-191.

[ii] Pence, Gregory E.  Can Compassion Be Taught?  Journal of Medical Ethics. 1983, 9, 189-191.

[iii] Vallerand et al.  On the Role of Passion for Work in Burnout: A Process Model.  Journal of Personality. 2010, 78(1), 289-312.

[iv] Levinson, Wendy.  Doctor-Patient Communication and Medical Malpractice implications for Pediatricians. Pediatric Annals.  1997, 26(3), 186-193.: I

[v] Shanafelt et al. Burnout and Medical Errors Among American Surgeons.  Annals of Surgery.  2010. 251(6), 995-1000.

August Faculty Development: Teaching communication skills for difficult conversations

Teaching communication skills for difficult conversations-Annabelle Rae C. Norwood, MD MMP Geriatrics

As professionals working in the medical field, we are often tasked with difficult conversations of delivering bad news, disclosing medical error, or initiating advance care planning and end-of-life discussions with patients and their families. More often than not, skills needed to effectively communicate with patients about these difficult topics are not developed fully during medical training.  As such, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education now requires competency in communication skills for residents and fellows.1 There are different methods available in order to hone these skills.

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