Marrying content and process in clinical method teaching: enhancing the Calgary-Cambridge guides.
Communication skills training is now internationally accepted as an essential component of medical education. However, learners and teachers in communication skills programs continue to experience problems integrating communication with other clinical skills, ensuring that clinical faculty support and teach communication beyond the formal communication course, extending communication training coherently into clerkship and residency, and applying communication skills in medical practice at a professional level of competence. One factor contributing to these problems is that learners confront two apparently conflicting models of the medical interview: a communication model describing the process of the interview and the "traditional medical history" describing the content of the interview. The resulting confusion exacerbates the above dilemmas and interferes with learners using communication skills training to advantage in real-life practice. The authors propose a comprehensive clinical method that explicitly integrates traditional clinical method with effective communication skills. To implement this more comprehensive approach, they have modified their own Calgary-Cambridge guides to the medical interview by developing three diagrams that visually and conceptually improve the way communication skills teaching is introduced and that place communication process skills within a comprehensive clinical method; devising a content guide for medical interviewing that is more closely aligned with the structure and process skills used in communication skills training; and incorporating patient-centered medicine into both process and content aspects of the medical interview. These enhancements help resolve ongoing difficulties associated with both teaching communication skills and applying them effectively in medical practice.