WRNMMC OB/GYN Reflective Practice


Reflective Practice 401 – Residency

Given that over 80% of diagnoses come from learning the patient’s story, and that eliciting this story relies on effective interpersonal engagement, it comes as no surprise that the ability to communicate effectively is an essential tool for every physician.  Not only does effective communication improve our diagnostic accuracy, it also allows us to better understand our patient’s context, and thereby to develop individualized treatment plans that are likely to be successful.  This session allows reflection on past communication successes and challenges in order to improve our ability to care for our patients, interact with our colleagues, and develop personally and professionally.

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Conflict is pervasive in many areas of life. How we perceive conflict, however, can vary a great deal as some perceive conflict as both inevitable and beneficial while others perceive conflict as inherently bad and needing continual resolution.  Regardless, conflict in the medical field has been associated with poor retention and reduced quality of care, especially when that conflict is not resolved. Conflict in medicine can be triggered by many sources including diagnostic uncertainty, personality differences, discordant goals, and unmet needs, among others. In this session, we will reflect on our experiences with conflict, consider our reactions to these situations, examine the implications of these reactions for future patient care and work to develop a plan moving forward.

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Compassion fatigue, first defined by Dr. Charles Figley as “a combination of physical, emotional, and spiritual depletion associated with caring for patients in significant emotional pain and/or physical distress” is commonly experienced by healthcare providers. Despite its ubiquity, compassion fatigue is rarely discussed or addressed, resulting in those who experience compassion fatigue with few tools to help them cope and feelings of isolation. In this session, we focus on the topic of compassion fatigue (comprised of both secondary traumatic stress and burnout) and identify adaptive strategies for coping with experiences likely to cause compassion fatigue in the future.

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While guilt and shame are often used synonymously, they are actually distinct feelings with different ramifications. Failing to identify and address guilt and shame can have far-reaching consequences for ourselves, our family and friends, our colleagues and our patients. Consequently, taking time to identify these feelings, process through them, and develop plans to help us cope with them in the future is likely to improve the care we deliver.

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