■ Physician-team:

Leveraging the power of collaboration to foster safe care

Reflections on communication

Published: August 2021

Type of activity: Narrative

Activity summary

Writing about one's personal experience encourages self-reflection and improves self-awareness. In this activity, learners are invited to reflect, in writing, on their experiences related to communication in healthcare. Faculty may choose to have learners personally explore the topic (e.g. keep a journal), or share their narratives as part of an interactive small group session. Depending upon the nature of the activity, it may be appropriate to have learners review the CMPA Good practices before or after participating in this exercise.

Note: Do not use open medico-legal cases. Patient and provider privacy and confidentiality must be maintained at all times. No names or other identifiers should be used.

Activity description

Ask learners to write about an event they observed or were involved in during their medical training or practice that they feel relates to communication in healthcare. Alternatively, learners may want to write about an event that occurred to them as recipients of healthcare, or as an observer of a friend's or family member's healthcare experiences. In doing so, learners will reflect on the importance of effective communication among members of a healthcare team, including the patient. The event may be one that occurred through a written document (including email), verbal communication, or on social media.

Suggested content for the narrative:

  • A description of the event
  • An explanation of how this event relates to communication in practice
  • The learner's reflections on the event including:
    • how and why the event occurred
    • what worked well
    • what changes or improvements they would make, if any
    • how they felt at the time
    • how they currently feel about the event

Suggestions to faculty

Faculty may choose to have learners, if they feel comfortable doing so, share their narratives as part of an interactive small group session.

Examples of questions that may be used to debrief the learners' experiences:

  • What barriers to communication and understanding were involved?
  • What non-verbal communication did you notice during the event?
  • Was there conflict or disagreement? Describe.
  • What did you learn?
  • How was your prior knowledge challenged?
  • How did this event affect you?
  • What did you gain from the experience that will be of use in the future?
  • I would do this differently because...

Additional resources

CanMEDS: Communicator

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this learning material is for general educational purposes only and is not intended to provide specific professional medical or legal advice, nor to constitute a "standard of care" for Canadian healthcare professionals. The use of CMPA learning resources is subject to the foregoing as well as the CMPA's Terms of Use.