Mediation Training for the Physician: Expanding the Communication Toolkit to Manage Conflict


Joshua B. Kayser


      Good communication is critical to the practice of medicine. This is particularly true when outcomes are unpredictable and/or patients lack the capacity to participate in medical decision making. Disputes may develop that cannot be addressed using basic communication skills. Conflict of this nature can burden patients, families, and medical staff and may result in increased suffering for all parties. Many physicians lack the necessary communication tools to handle difficult conversations. Training in bioethics mediation provides physicians with skills that can promote healing by empowering participants to engage in effective discourse and break down barriers to find common ground. Mediation training for physicians can expand their capacity to connect with patients and enhance their ability to identify potential conflict early on, in order to collaborate more effectively. Competency in the processes of negotiation and conflict resolution should therefore be seen as essential elements of medical training.


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