Healthcare providers often must communicate with caregivers to provide care to patients. This is even more important when the patients are unable to communicate or make decisions for themselves. Crucial Conversations with Caregivers is a classroom activity focused on the theme of improving family-engaged practice. The activity relies on the participation of an interprofessional team of students, caregiver, and facilitators. The classroom activity is broken into three distinct parts; 1. caregiver personal storytelling of managing the complicated health care of a child and now adult with significant communication concerns, 2. design sprint for themes, questions, and concerns, 3. roleplaying conversations of caregivers and health care professionals. Utilizing humanities with storytelling, design, and roleplaying elements allows healthcare students to participate fully despite being at various levels in their educations and having varied discipline-specific educations and interests.
102 healthcare students (43 third year doctoral physical therapy students, 38 first year master physician assistant students, and 21 senior undergraduate level social work students) were divided into groups of 5 students of mixed disciplines. After the class, 100 students completed a survey which included the SPICE-R survey, a retrospective Likert scale question on the ability to communicate with caregivers as compared to 6-months prior to the class, and class strengths and challenges. Feedback was overwhelmingly positive, with 13 of the 15 SPICE-R questions having 95% agree or strongly agree to the ability to work collaboratively with a healthcare team. Of the surveyed students, 84.9% agreed or strongly agreed that as compared to 6 months prior to the class, the activity improved their ability to communicate with a patient’s caregiver more effectively. Survey comments included positive statements about collaboration and increased knowledge and understanding of the distinct roles. “It was beneficial to see the same situation approached by three different disciplines and perspectives.”