Experiential Communications Curriculum to Improve Resident Preparedness When Responding to Discriminatory Comments in the Workplace

Christine March, Lorne W. Walker, Regina L. Toto, Sylvia Choi, Evelyn C. Reis, Stephanie Dewar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Background : Patients and families can make discriminatory comments leading to physician distress. Residents receive little training in appropriate responses to such comments and may be ill equipped to respond to intolerance without alienating the individual(s) making the comments.

Objective : We assessed whether a simulated curriculum would enhance pediatrics residents' ability to effectively respond to discriminatory comments.

Methods : In the 2016-2017 academic year, we modified an existing communication skills curriculum for senior pediatrics residents. Residents engaged a simulated parent who used discriminatory speech in 4 scenarios, followed by a group debriefing. We conducted anonymous surveys to assess residents' preparedness to respond to these comments before and immediately following participation and examined their experience with discriminatory comments in the workplace.

Results : The majority of residents reported prior experience with discriminatory comments (32 of 45 [71%] witnessed such comments, and 27 of 48 [56%] were targeted by such comments), most often regarding age, race, and ethnicity. Mean precourse scores ranged from 2.1 to 3.1 (on a 5-point scale) regarding ability to engage in a firm yet respectful dialogue, to reference the hospital code of conduct, to coach a learner to respond, and to facilitate a team debrief. Mean postcourse scores improved significantly for these questions (range 3.8-4.1). The greatest improvement was in referencing the code of conduct (2.1 versus 4.0, P < .001).

Conclusions : Immediately after participating in simulation, pediatrics residents reported a significant improvement in self-reported readiness to respond to discriminatory comments made by a parent and reported the simulation experience was beneficial.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)306-310
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of graduate medical education
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2018
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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