Physician-Patient Communication Course: When the Inauguration of a New Israeli Medical School Coincided with COVID-19 Pandemic

Talma Kushnir, Yoram Sandhaus, Hana Castel, Ahuva Golik, Moshe Salai, Avinoam Tzabari, Yakov Yahav, Zachi Grossman, Hana Mazuz, Shai Ashkenazi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The curriculum of the Adelson School of Medicine at Ariel University, the newly established sixth medical school in Israel, includes a simulation center-based extended course on physician-patient communication, aiming to help students master the core competency of interpersonal and communication skills. For more than a year following the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, the school suspended most face-to-face (F2F) encounters, transforming most teaching activities to remote platforms. The paper outlines the ways we adapted teaching of this course to these circumstances, the reactions of students and mentors to the changes and results of 1st year students’ survey. Methods: During the lockdown in the first year 48 of 70 first-year students participated in a voluntary anonymous online evaluation of the course assessing motivation to become a physician; perceptions, feelings and attitudes towards the communication course, and advantages and disadvantages of online and F2F medical interviews. Results: 46.1% of the responding students reported that the pandemic strengthened their desire to become physicians. 56.3% claimed that they were able to a relatively large extent to empathize with COVID-19 patients who were exposed to the virus; 79.1% viewed their mentors as positive role models of communication skills. The students were able to receive and offer social support to their peers. They evaluated very highly the short instructional videos produced by the faculty. Conclusion: During the lockdown, the respondents generally indicated positive attitudes towards the communication course, the mentors and the inclusion of physician-patient communication as a topic in medical education. The students and mentors reported many disadvantages and few advantages of remote learning. Yet inevitably remote learning including online-based simulations is a step towards preparations for future practice within virtual medical care and telemedicine. The limitations of this study include the cross-sectional design, small sample size and self-reporting.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1013-1024
Number of pages12
JournalAdvances in Medical Education and Practice
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • 1st year students
  • COVID-19
  • Medical education
  • communication skills
  • distance teaching
  • face-to-face
  • simulations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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