Crisis intervention - The summary of a unique interventional program for med studnets Academic Article uri icon


  • In their daily work, physicians encounter varied illnesses, often accompanied with an emotional crisis that engulfs both the patient and his/her family. Research has shown that physicians find this part of their occupation extremely harsh, especially when conveying to the patient the initial bad news about his condition. Most medical school curricula published do not have any training programs for medical students in this expertise. The Patient's Rights Act and the current need of patients to be involved in their treatment have made it even more important to train would-be physicians on how to convey bad news. The Faculty of Health Sciences at the Ben-Gurion University is among the pioneers in articulating a formal curriculum on how to convey bad news and crisis intervention. The clinical workshop "Crisis Intervention" is aimed at 2nd year medical students, and has been taught at this school for the last 15 years, confronting these issues head-on. The course is conducted by an expert psychiatrist and an experienced social worker. The course is aimed at providing the students with theoretical background on the crisis and the emotional turmoil caused by medical emergencies, as well as to expose the students to real life crisis situations of patients and their families, thereby exposing them to optimal management of these situations. During this 4-day workshop, students learn how to convey bad news, as well as to understand its impact upon patients and their families. In the workshop emphasis is placed on the ethical and legal issues that evolve when caring for extremely ill patients. In the current article the authors unfold the techniques, theoretical and pedagogical issues of the workshop. The authors used semi-structured questionnaires to evaluate the course, and found that the students considered this workshop to be an interesting and relevant course. Using the results shown, as well as an oral debriefing after the course with class representatives, the authors found that student involvement in different wards has exposed them to various methods of crisis management. The close chaperoning of students by an attending physician, as well as the wards social worker, has shown the students a good example of staff involvement in the patient's emotional turmoil in the midst of his medical crisis. This learning process, which is mainly experiential in nature, and which is reinforced academically by the frontal lectures, as well as learning in small groups and class discussions, has enabled our students to meet and hopefully identify with a more humane perception of the physician, as one whose professionalism is measured not only by his clinical skills, but also by his communication skills.

publication date

  • January 1, 2009