Pathfinder is your portal to building essential skills that ensure effective, patient-centered communication.
Watch the Video and On-Demand Webinar
A Message from Atul Gawande: Improving Communication Skill Means Improving Care
This short video introduction to the Communication Skills Pathfinder explains the importance and impact of high-quality communication with seriously ill patients.
Watch it to get started and use it to help make the case at an organizational level.
The Case for Improving Communication Skills Training
This VitalTalk on-demand webinar describes the importance of high-quality communication with seriously ill patients. It is foundational for any frontline clinician interested in improving his or her communication skills.Watch Webinar
CAPC Members: Take free online continuing education courses
CAPC/VitalTalk Communication Skills Curriculum
Clinicians working in CAPC member institutions have free access to all CAPC resources, including all online communication skills courses. Developed by VitalTalk, these courses include: Delivering Serious News; Discussing Prognosis; Clarifying Goals of Care; Conducting a Family Meeting; and Advance Care Planning.
Taking all five courses in the curriculum leads to CAPC Designation status in Communication Skills. All clinicians of CAPC member institutions are encouraged to take the entire curriculum. CMEs/CEUs are free.
See if you're with a CAPC Member organization here.
Try a tool
Serious Illness Conversation Guide from Ariadne Labs
The Serious Illness Conversation Guide from Ariadne Labs is a structured tool to help clinicians elicit information from patients about their goals, values, and what is most important to them. The Guide helps clinicians set up the conversation, assess the patient’s understanding of his or her illness and information preferences, share prognosis, explore goals, fears, worries, and trade-offs, and close the conversation with recommendations and documentation. It is one element of a six-part program that creates systems-level support for clinicians.
The Guide can be downloaded for free upon registration.
Supporting Tools for the Serious Illness Conversation Guide from Ariadne Labs
Ariadne Labs has developed tools to help patients, families, and clinicians have better serious illness conversations. These tools include:
Clinician Reference Guide: A guide to support clinicians through all aspects of the serious illness conversation. It provides detailed information about how to prepare patients and families for a serious illness conversation, sample language to use, such as when discussing prognosis or addressing emotions, and tips for navigating common scenarios.
Pre-Visit Letter: A letter to help prepare patients for a serious illness conversation with their clinician. It includes topics for patients to think about in advance, reinforces the importance of the conversation, and reassures patients that talking about the future need not impact their care plan.
Family Communications Guide: This guide helps patients talk with their families and friends about the same topics that clinicians bring up with them during their serious illness conversations. Like the clinician materials, it provides language for the patient to relay information to his or her family.
To review these documents, please sign up for free access to Ariadne Labs’ Community of Practice and look under the “Resources” tab.
One-Page Tools and Guides from VitalTalk
VitalTalk has several one-page tools and guides offering quick, actionable insights to improve communication skills. These guides help clinicians through a first visit with a patient—to break bad news, discuss prognosis, address goals of care, respond to emotion, conduct a family conference, and defuse conflict.Download Guides
VitalTalk Smartphone Apps
These apps are useful tools for physicians, medical students, and any other clinicians treating seriously ill patients:
The first VitalTalk app takes clinicians through the 5-step “G.U.I.D.E.” method for giving serious news. It provides videos, tips, and clinician debriefings on what went well and what can be improved next time. For iOS only.
The second VitalTalk app summarizes tips from all the VitalTalk quick guides. Available for both iOS and Android.
Watch short online videos of good conversations in action
VitalTalk Video Series
VitalTalk has several short videos demonstrating clinicians using specific conversation skills. Get started with these:
Take an in-depth, continuing education online course
Delivering Serious News
VitalTalk offers a five-hour online course titled Delivering Serious News. Clinicians will learn how to strengthen communication skills and connect more deeply with patients.
Participants can enroll at any time and self-pace to complete the course over eight weeks. Five CME credits are available. Enrollment is open and ongoing.
Take an intensive in-person course
Mastering Tough Conversations
VitalTalk’s signature advanced communication skills course features cognitive mapping, deliberate practice, and just-in-time feedback. Results are immediate and significant and promote lasting improvements in a medical practitioner’s ability to meet patient and family needs around end-of-life care.
Find out about upcoming courses and register.
Troubleshoot. Ask questions. Keep learning.
Take advantage of learning from experts and peers
CAPC Members: Attend Virtual Office Hours with VitalTalk
CAPC Virtual Office Hours are small-group consulting calls with leading subject matter experts addressing a wide variety of topics. Experienced VitalTalk faculty will address your urgent needs and answer your questions as you practice and perfect your communication skills. Stay for the whole hour, or hop on, hop off.
See if you're with a CAPC Member organization.
The Community of Practice
Ariadne Labs has developed the Community of Practice, a private space for collaboration among clinicians, researchers, and other health care professionals working to implement the Serious Illness Care Program at their institutions. This virtual community provides support through peer mentoring, technical assistance from expert clinicians and implementers, sharing of experiences and lessons learned, and downloadable materials, videos, and webinars. Some sample webinars include “Building a Foundation for Implementing the Serious Illness Care Program”; “Patient Screening and Identification”; “More, Earlier, and Better Conversations to Improve Serious Illness Care”; and “A Model Electronic Health Documentation System”.
Register for free and join this community.