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Can journalism training strengthen physicians' bedside manner?

A U.S. News article published online today examines the growing number of partnerships between medical schools and journalism programs and explores how the collaborations may benefit health reporters as well as young doctors.

The story features the School of Medicine's Stanford-NBC News Global Health Media Fellowship and a half dozen other programs offering medical students training in journalism and communications. Menachem Wecker writes:

This recent influx of programs has raised questions from journalists and doctors about the degree to which the collaborations benefit medical and journalism students. Some say that M.D.'s can help journalists better understand the health beat, while others prescribe a "healthy ignorance," rather than medical school credentials, to reporters. Others say that aspiring physicians can improve their bedside interactions with and empathy for patients by studying journalism.

Boston physician Adam Wolfberg, MD, is among those who believe that journalism and communications skills can benefit medical students. He says:

[C]ommunicating with patients, colleagues, and the community is really central to what we do, and an increasingly recognized deficiency... There are piles of studies indicating the gaps between what doctors say and what patients hear and understand.

For more on the topic, Stanford-NBC News Global Health Media Fellow Joyce Ho, who is also quoted in the article, recently discussed how acquiring media skills are increasingly seen as an important part of the tool kit for doctors working in the field.

Previously: New program teaches MDs how to be journalists

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