Utilizing high-fidelity crucial conversation simulation in genetic counseling training

Academic Article


  • Genetics professionals are often required to deliver difficult news to patients and families. This is a challenging task, but one that many genetics trainees have limited opportunity to master during training. This is true for several reasons, including relative scarcity of these events and an understandable hesitation of supervisors allowing a trainee to provide such high stakes information. Medical simulation is effective in other health care disciplines giving trainees opportunities of "hands on" education in similar high stakes situations. We hypothesized that crucial conversations simulation would be effective for genetics trainees to gain experience in communication and counseling skills in a realistic clinical scenario. To test this hypothesis, we designed a prenatal counseling scenario requiring disclosure of an abnormal amniocentesis result and discussion of pregnancy management options; we challenged participants to address common counseling questions. Three medical genetics resident physicians and five genetic counseling students participated. Genetics and simulation experts observed the session via live video feed from a different room. A behavioral checklist was completed in real time assessing trainee's performance and documenting medical information discussed. Debriefing immediately followed the session and included simulation and genetics experts and the actor parents. Participants completed open-ended post evaluations. There was a trend towards participants being more likely to discuss issues the child could have while an infant/toddler rather than issues that could emerge as the child with Down Syndrome transitions to adulthood and end of life (P=.069). All participants found the simulation helpful, notably that it was more realistic than role-playing with colleagues. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Holt RL; Tofil NM; Hurst C; Youngblood AQ; Peterson DT; Zinkan JL; White ML; Clemons JL; Robin NH
  • Start Page

  • 1273
  • End Page

  • 1277
  • Volume

  • 161
  • Issue

  • 6