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Palliative Medicine – Family Conversations

This 3-hour course enables residents, fellows, and nurse practitioner to practice discussing patient care goals and end-of-life concerns in a simulation environment. Learners practice participating in family meetings with a standardized patient and standardized family members. In this safe, “low stakes” environment, learners are expected to build a rapport with patients and family members through both verbal and non-verbal communication. Participants practice and refine essential communication skills.

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

  • Demonstrate the ability to establish a rapport with the patient and her family members, address their individual concerns related to death and dying, and discuss advanced care planning
  • Demonstrate the understanding of medications used for symptom control and able to clarify misconceptions held by family members


  • Residents, fellows, and nurse practitioner students

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