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Some Experts Prescribe Journalism-Infused M.D.'s for Physicians, Writers

Communications and journalism training may improve physicians’ bedside manner and empathy for patients.

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[Learn why Greek and Latin skills may help M.D. applicants.]

"[C]ommunicating with patients, colleagues, and the community is really central to what we do, and an increasingly recognized deficiency," says Adam Wolfberg, a Boston-based physician and professor at Tufts University School of Medicine, who reported for Newsweek before attending Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Holtz, the former AHCJ board member, agrees that doctors could afford to be better communicators. "There are piles of studies indicating the gaps between what doctors say and what patients hear and understand," he says.

Peter Polack, a Florida-based ophthalmologist who authors the blog Medical Practice Trends, adds that doctors often have to write abstracts, peer-reviewed articles, and applications for grants.

"[M]any of the issues that physicians face in the political arena, such as healthcare reform and reimbursement, see them at a distinct disadvantage, because they don't necessarily communicate their position effectively to the general public," he says.

Oransky, of Reuters Health, says he sometimes wonders if medical students and residents should have to endure being poked and prodded as patients for a week.

"It's probably more about empathy than specific communication techniques," he says.

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