, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 129-131
Date: 30 Oct 2012

Bridging the gender gap in communication skills

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Whether through endowment or social learning, females—including female physicians—typically communicate better than males (Roter et al. 2002). In this edition of Advances, Swygert and colleagues report that better communication by female physicians-in-training is associated with improved performance on the USMLE Step 2 Clinical Skills examination (Swygert et al. 2011), reminding us that females on average perform better than males on any task that involves communication (Carson et al. 2010; Gispert et al. 1999; Haist et al. 2000). So, how should we respond to this consistent finding? Should we lament that boys will be boys (Hamilton 2003), or explore ways to bridge this gender gap?

Communication is a “key competency” in the CanMEDS framework, and is considered to be more effective if a physician can “establish positive therapeutic relationships with patients and their families that are characterized by understanding, trust, respect, honesty and empathy” (Frank 2005). When physicians com ...

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