Do Doctors Need Better People Skills?

A number of medical schools have altered their admission process and curriculum to produce doctors with better people skills. What do you think?

In the complex arena of modern medicine, in which doctors are increasingly called upon to work in groups, teamwork and communication skills are more important than ever. But there is a concern that many doctors lack the necessary people and communication skills to thrive in this arena. As a means of selecting potential doctors who have the ability and inclination to work well with others, a number of medical schools have done away with the traditional personal interview in their application process and replaced it with the multiple mini interview (MMI). In the MMI, applicants encounter a series of scenarios in which they must interact with their “interviewers” in a variety of different contexts, which tend to require them to grapple with ethical conundrums, think on their feet, and demonstrate their ability to work as part of a team.

The nation’s newest medical school, Virginia Tech Carilion, which admitted its first class in 2010, uses the MMI and has made the development of teamwork and communication skills a major emphasis in its curriculum as well. To find out more about the school’s efforts to mold doctors who are good team players, we spoke with Cynda Ann Johnson, MD, dean of Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine. To read an edited transcript of the interview, click here. To listen to the entire interview, click here.

We want to know what you think: Do doctors need better people skills? Have you witnessed incidents in which poor communication among doctors negatively affected care? Do you think the multiple mini interview will help select better doctors?