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Training Physicians for Empathy

Ryan Chiavetta, for HealthLeaders Media, August 8, 2014

Maureen Kelley, PhD, an associate professor for the department of pediatrics at the University of Washington, saw that students weren't properly prepared to handle the emotional repercussions of a stillbirth.

"We don't train our physicians very well to handle the emotional, psychological side of it, says Kelley, "There's a little bit of training on the recognition and the science and symptoms of distress and they're trained on how to medically manage a woman who is having a stillbirth. But there's a whole other side to it, the emotional and psychological side of losing a pregnancy and how parents suffer in that process."

Kelley taught and developed the one-day course with Michael Gravett, MD and Alyssa Stephenson-Famy, MD, both OB-Gyns at the University of Washington.

The first hour covers the medical management of stillbirth, including the skills needed to handle a stillbirth, how to identify the signs that a mother might go through a stillbirth, and how to talk with parents who fear another stillbirth.

The next two hours instruct how to psychologically support parents going through a stillbirth. This section details the various emotions parents experience, and offers doctors ways to help them through.

Kelley tells the residents stories about what parents have told her during interviews, and offers a frank discussion of grief triggers, and what should, and shouldn't be said in those situations.

Two parents from the group Stillborn, Still Loved, an advocacy group that supports and partially funds GAPPS, then told their stories to the audience. The effect was profound.

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1 comments on "Training Physicians for Empathy"


bettynoyes (8/8/2014 at 12:13 PM)
I am hopeful that this will help a "Tad"..