Area of Activity III: Cultures and Communication

Improving Medical Students’ Communication Skills with Integrative Medicine

The interaction between the doctor on the one hand and the patient on the other plays a key role in the success of any course of therapy. Although this is hardly an unknown fact, it is often neglected in everyday medical practice. A German-Israeli project wants to change this, allowing medical students to hone their communication skills – with the help of techniques used in integrative medicine.

16 medical students
4 mentors
Patients from Israel and Germany

Project Content
How can constructive, empathetic conversations between doctors and patients be conducted successfully? This vital question for diagnosis, therapy, and convalescence is at the heart of this project, in which Israeli and German students are supposed to expand their communicative skills. They work with verbal and non-verbal communication techniques from the field of integrative medicine (IM), which consciously engage with the patients’ individual needs. These techniques include both approaches from conventional medicine as well as alternative methods of healing, incorporating healing touch therapies taken from shiatsu or other methods borrowed from mind-body medicine.

Project Working Methods
Within the project, the participants try out these techniques in binational workshops and task forces. The question of how they affect doctor-patient communication is the focus of attention here. Are they suitable for giving patients a feeling of self-determination and involvement in the healing process? What prerequisites would be needed for these methods to be integrated into university curricula?

Project Goals
The goal of the project is to try out and make use of selected methods from integrative medicine for the dialogue between doctors and patients. The participants present their findings at academic conferences, in a specialist publication, and within student networks.
Collaborating partners
Bnai Zion Medical Center in Haifa
Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin