gms | German Medical Science

GMS Journal for Medical Education

Gesellschaft für Medizinische Ausbildung (GMA)

ISSN 2366-5017

Congress Memorandum: Day of Teaching 2011 at the Medical Faculty Mannheim, Heidelberg University, 01.07.2011

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  • Nicole Deis - Medizinische Fakultät Mannheim der Universität Heidelberg, Geschäftsbereich Studium und Lehrentwicklung, Mannheim, Deutschland
  • corresponding author Harald Fritz - Medizinische Fakultät Mannheim der Universität Heidelberg, Geschäftsbereich Studium und Lehrentwicklung, Mannheim, Deutschland

GMS Z Med Ausbild 2012;29(3):Doc40

doi: 10.3205/zma000810, urn:nbn:de:0183-zma0008100

This is the English version of the article.
The German version can be found at:

Received: December 6, 2011
Revised: December 8, 2011
Published: May 15, 2012

© 2012 Deis et al.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( You are free: to Share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work, provided the original author and source are credited.

Congress memorandum

On July 1st in 2011 the Medical Faculty in Mannheim held its annual Day of Teaching focussing this year on “doctor-patient communication – more than talking to the patient”. This topic was chosen because it is of special interest for the faculty, but is also debated in a broader professional context. Communication with patients and other medical professionals is the first of seven core competencies, as defined in our Mannheim Reformed Curriculum for Medicine (MaReCuM). Currently, all teaching activities relating to communication skills are being integrated into a longitudinal module. The simulated-patient program (celebrating its 5th anniversary) and the skillslab Thesima (launched in 2008), are important components of this communication skills module. The first batch of students studying under the reformed curriculum MaReCuM has reached its final practical year in August 2011. All in all, good reasons for the Medical Faculty Mannheim to look back at the past five years and at the same time a chance to set the course for future developments.

The symposium offered the opportunity to get an overview on recent scientific findings in communication research and teaching. Moreover, it was a good possibility to get new ideas for the curriculum development through the discussions with international experts.

In his opening speech Wim Gijselaers (University of Maastricht, Department of Educational Research and Development) took a close look at interprofessional communication in medicine.

As key factors for team success, he identified psychological safety, the appreciation of differences, openness for new ideas and time available for reflection.

Wim Gijselaers gave account on studies in hospitals, that were looking for the link between the error rate and the prevalent leadership-style in teams. At first sight, the results are surprising: More errors were reported, the more positively nurses rated their team’s relationships and the support they received from their superiors. Are teams with authoritarian leaders less prone to errors? According to Wim Gijselaers, the combination of psychological safety and the other factors mentioned before creates a climate of mutual trust and thus an open and constructive error management in teams with a cooperative leadership style, whereas in teams with an authoritarian manager the errors are rather concealed than reported. Communication is crucial for the functioning of teams – and is, according to Gijselaers, „more than talking to each other“.

With the leading question: “Is good doctor-patient-communication teachable and learnable?“ Wolf Langewitz (Universitätsspital Basel; European Association of Communication in Health Care, Past President and Executive Committee Member) gave an overview over the established learning objectives of this field and their sources.He stated that medical education is not only aiming at the transfer of knowledge: developing professional attitudes is another fundamental element. But how can attitude changes be achieved and measured? Benevolent concern in combination with modesty are the attitudinal preconditions for a successful doctor-patient-relationship. To shape this professional attitude, it is essential for students to experience from the patient’s point of view, that communication A feels better than communication B. An internal workshop was offered later to deepen these thoughts and ideas and to discuss possible conclusions for the curriculum development in Mannheim

Eva Eckkrammer (Universität Mannheim, Abteilung Sprach- und Medienwissenschaft) commented on the consequences of language barriers and cultural differences on the health of migrants. She recommended the integration of transcultural competencies in undergraduate and continuing medical education as a means to reduce stereotypes and achieve better medical care for migrants. On the long run, she considers the implementation of multicultural teams and translational services as an essential standard in clinics.

Peter Görlich (Ethianum Heidelberg) looked at the role of effective communication from an economic perspective. He realized his vision in the clinic Ethianum in Heidelberg: the primarily process-orientated learning organization. Transparency and standardized procedures ensure satisfaction of both patients and employees. According to Peter Görlich, it is crucial for the organisation’s success to clearly define the communication channels and to communicate constructively within the team.

At the end of the plenary session a certificate, which is part of the lecturers qualification process, was handed on to the future lecturers.

In the afternoon, various opportunities to deal with different aspects of doctor-patient-communication were offered: Prof. Wassermann, musical director at Heidelberg University and choir leader of the “Mannheimer Medizinerchor” focused in his workshop on techniques to breathe consciously and efficiently for the sake of increased charisma and persuasive power. The workshop “Communication in Medical Education”, held by Petra Eggensperger (Department Key competencies at Heidelberg University), was used as a forum to discuss the current key questions and future developments in communication training in medical education.

This successful day closed with presenting the prizes for excellent teaching to outstanding lecturers and enjoying the students summer party.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.