August 2015

Communication—The Most Challenging Procedure

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Medicine, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, New York

Copyright 2015 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.

JAMA Intern Med. 2015;175(8):1268-1269. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2015.2220

After long training years in both general surgery and internal medicine, I recently became an attending physician in palliative medicine. One thing has become increasingly clear each day as I conduct family meetings and teach trainees how to break bad news. Palliative care, traditionally thought of as a medical subspecialty, has much in common with a procedure-based specialty like surgery. Specifically, difficult communication is really a procedure, and learning its skills is surprisingly similar to learning surgical skills.

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