Our College recently convened a series of retreats bringing together faculty, administrators and employees to identify common concerns. Stakeholders working independently in small groups separately and collectively agreed that our major organizational concern was communication. This theme played out in various ways. From not knowing what was going on beyond an individual's immediate work area to broader interpersonal challenges. Some felt a lack of caring or appreciation. Often the word, "respect," was used. Perceived deficiencies extended to students, faculty, administrators, staff, and most troubling, to patients. Communication skills are recognized as essential to professional competence by the Commission on Dental Accreditation, the American Dental Education Association, and the Inter-professional Educational Collaborative. It is a theme that crosses disciplines and is foundational to patient-centered care. As scientifically driven evidence-based healthcare and technologies progress, the emotional, psychological, social and cultural needs of patients may be neglected. Communication skills centered on empathy and showing you care, yield benefits to both the doctor and patient in terms of satisfaction, compliance, and treatment outcomes.
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