Video: Bedside Manner 101: Breaking Bad News
Nobody likes receiving bad news. It’s no fun delivering it, either, especially when the news involves ailing children.
Yet it’s part of the job if you’re a doctor in the field of pediatrics. Goryeb Children’s Hospital at the Morristown Medical Center has started an innovative program to help young doctors improve their bedside manner.
Breaking Bad News is a role-playing exercise involving actors from the Chatham Players. They portray parents receiving grim diagnoses about their children from doctors at the hospital.
The scenarios feel painfully real, as you can see in this video.
Sessions are videotaped and doctors’ performances are critiqued by a team led by Dr. Anthony Orsini, a neonatologist. Doctors Colin O’Reilly and Sunitha Sara John assisted him at recent sessions.
“It’s important to come across as someone who is knowledgeable about the problem, someone who knows how to help with the problem, and someone who cares,” explained Dr. Orsini.
There is no textbook approach; every situation is unique, added Dr. O’Reilly. “It’s an art form,” he said.
We watched a second-year resident, Dr. Christine Seminara, deliver stark news to parents played by actors Leslie Reagoso and Kevin Bohl. The session was coordinated by Bleu Moon, an advertising agency from Butler.
The actors gave intense performances that made everyone in the room quickly forget that this was make-believe. Dr. Seminara held herself together better than we would have done, though she acknowledged it was not easy.
“I have to say that when I left the room, I started tearing as well,” she said. “I think it’s important for patients to have a doctor that’s in control of the situation and is empathetic, but is not fully taken away by emotions. But I can’t say that I don’t feel it just like they do.”