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Queen Mary Academy

Communication in clinical settings: the Clin Comm Podcast

A microphone on a desk
Professor Graham Easton profile picture

Professor Graham Easton

Lead for the Clinical and Communications Skills Unit

The Clin Comm Podcast was launched within the School of Medicine and Dentistry in 2020. The aim was to create engaging insights into the communication skills that medical students and healthcare professionals would need during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Responding to a need

There was a need for a resource on communication skills during the COVID-19 pandemic which healthcare professionals, students and the public could access. The Clin Comm Podcast was created with this in mind. With the help of the Queen Mary e-learning unit, the podcast was made available on QMplus Media, accessible to both students and the public.

The podcast format allowed students to learn about communication skills in an engaging way. Among other topics, the podcast covered breaking bad news to a patient and dealing with racial microaggressions during clinical interactions. The latter in particular was vital for the podcast to address, as Queen Mary medical students are from very diverse backgrounds, as are their patients.

Students were asked to take part in some episodes of the podcast in order to share their own experiences of communication needs in clinical settings. Going forward, steps will be taken to have more students involved in its production. The podcast was launched at the start of the pandemic in response to a clear need for communication skills, and so time was a barrier to its implementation.

The impact

The podcast has been integrated into modules, adding to the variety of learning resources available to students. They help medical students to develop their confidence to engage with their community, in the knowledge that they have the appropriate communication skills for clinical interactions with all types of patients. In addition to our learners, the podcasts have been played 3,892 by listeners across 53 different countries.

There is now a module called 'Engaging the Public with Science 2020/21', open to students on BSc programmes co-taught by the School of Medicine and Dentistry and the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences. Students on this module have produced four new episodes in collaboration with the Clinical Communication podcast production team, who helped learners conceive, design, present and edit their episodes. New episode topics have included: 

  • A final year elective project from a student interested in medical journalism who designed, presented and produced a podcast about life as a junior doctor on the frontline
  • An episode supporting a member of staff in medical school to explore and communicate about how doctors talk to each other away from work, and what impact they may have.

The impact on educators has been an increased awareness of audio podcasts as a way to communicate their work to a wider audience, and also as an engaging way to share discussions and ideas with students. Several of the podcasts are now included within learning resources on QMPlus. There has also been a shift in willingness to try presenting with the team's support , and development of formal presentation skills.

Thanks so much for asking me to contribute to the podcast series. It was really enjoyable  but also such an important opportunity to take this discussion out to the general public. I feel really passionately that we need to open up these conversations and ways of thinking about healthcare, and the clinicians that deliver it, across the divide between those that deliver care and those that need it.
— Podcast guest

Professor Graham Easton

Lead for the Clinical and Communications Skills Unit

Email Professor Graham Easton
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