Professionalism and Communication Education in Pediatric Critical Care Medicine: The Learner Perspective

Acad Pediatr. 2015 Jul-Aug;15(4):380-5. doi: 10.1016/j.acap.2015.02.011. Epub 2015 Apr 28.


Objective: Communication and professionalism are often challenging to teach, and the impact of the use of a given approach is not known. We undertook this investigation to establish pediatric critical care medicine (PCCM) trainee perception of education in professionalism and communication and to compare their responses from those obtained from PCCM fellowship program directors.

Methods: The Education in Pediatric Intensive Care (E.P.I.C.) Investigators used the modified Delphi technique to develop a survey examining teaching of professionalism and communication. After piloting, the survey was sent to all 283 PCCM fellows in training in the United States.

Results: Survey response rate was 47% (133 of 283). Despite high rates of teaching overall, deficiencies were noted in all areas of communication and professionalism assessed. The largest areas of deficiency included not being specifically taught how to communicate: as a member of a nonclinical group (reported in 24%), across a broad range of socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds (19%) or how to provide consultation outside of the intensive care unit (17%). Only 50% of fellows rated education in communication as "very good/excellent." However, most felt confident in their communication abilities. For professionalism, fellows reported not being taught accountability (12%), how to conduct a peer review (12%), and how to handle potential conflict between personal beliefs, circumstances, and professional values (10%). Fifty-seven percent of fellows felt that their professionalism education was "very good/excellent," but nearly all expressed confidence in these skills. Compared with program directors, fellows reported more deficiencies in both communication and professionalism.

Conclusions: There are numerous components of communication and professionalism that PCCM fellows perceive as not being specifically taught. Despite these deficiencies, fellow confidence remains high. Substantial opportunities exist to improve teaching in these areas.

Keywords: communication; competency; evaluation; fellowship training; graduate medical education; pediatric; professionalism.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Communication*
  • Critical Care*
  • Curriculum
  • Humans
  • Pediatrics / education*
  • Professionalism / education*
  • Students, Medical
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States