Academic Medicine

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Academic Medicine:
doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e3182580f56
Commentary

Commentary: Adding Realism and Perspective to Behavioral Counseling Curricula for Medical Students

Campos-Outcalt, Doug MD, MPA; Calonge, Ned MD, MPH

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Abstract

Hauer and colleagues have made an important contribution to medical education by documenting how best to teach behavioral counseling skills to medical students. Although the authors of this commentary agree that these skills are important for physicians to learn, they argue that physicians must acknowledge realities regarding the role of physicians as behavioral counselors and the limited effectiveness of counseling during clinical encounters. Students and physicians need to understand the limited role that the medical care system plays in determining lifestyles and the more potent effect that community-wide interventions can have. The authors call for education about behavioral counseling that teaches necessary skills, yet develops realistic expectations of what physicians can and cannot do by themselves, understanding of when to refer patients for intensive counseling, and recognition of the importance of societal factors in effecting behavior change.

© 2012 Association of American Medical Colleges

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