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Palliative Medicine #4 – Family Conversations

Palliative Medicine #4 – Family Conversations

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This is a three hour course designed to give residents, fellows, and Nurse Practitioner students an opportunity to practice discussing patients’ goals of care/end-of-life concerns in a simulated family meeting through the use of a standardized patient and his/her standardized family members. In this safe, “low stakes” environment, participants are expected to build a rapport with patients and their family members through both verbal and non-verbal communication. Participants’ communication skills which are needed to build a rapport with patients are expected to be refined throughout the simulation.

Learning Objectives

  • Practice non-verbal and verbal communication skills to create a rapport with patients and family members
  • Respond to and acknowledge the unique concerns of each participant in the discussion (patient, spouse, son/daughter)
  • Clarify medical information and discuss advanced care planning while contending with challenging family dynamics

Expected Outcomes

  • Participants will be able to establish a rapport with the patient and her family members, address their individual concerns, and discuss advanced care planning
  • Participants will be better prepared to communicate with family members about the prognosis / trajectory of their loved one’s disease
  • Participants will be more comfortable with informing family members that the patient is dying using PPS / PPI to guide discussion
  • Participants will be versed in medications used for symptom control and able to clarify misconceptions held by family members. Similarly, participants will be familiar with and able to discuss options for pleasure feeding versus maintenance / nutritional feeds


  • Residents, fellows and Nurse Practitioner students