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The purpose of this activity is to allow students to practice their patient counseling skills and interaction with difficult patients. The goal is to discover and practice ways to overcome psychological and behavioral communication barriers in a safe and low-stakes environment.

Learning Objectives
  1. Identify a variety of psychological and/or behavioral communication barriers patients may display.

  2. Determine appropriate tactics for overcoming communication barriers due to anger, impatience, embarrassment, and distraction.

  3. Appropriately counsel a difficult patient displaying an emotion or behavior reflecting anger, impatience, embarrassment, or distraction.

Foundational Knowledge Required

Patient counseling skills, Pharmacists’ Patient Care Process

Suggested Resources
  • Assa-Eley MT, Ward CT. Communication: an overview. In: Nemire RE, Kier KL, Assa-Eley MT, eds. Pharmacy Student Survival Guide. 3rd ed. McGraw-Hill Education; 2014:chap 4.

  • Sherman, JJ. Counseling and motivational interviewing. In: Ellis AW, Serman JJ, eds. Community and Clinical Pharmacy Services: A Step-By-Step Approach. McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.; 2013:chap 3.

  • Berger BA. Communication Skills for Pharmacists: Building Relationships, Improving Patient Care. 3rd ed. Washington D.C.: American Pharmacists Association; 2009.

Assignment Instructions

Prior to lab, this activity can be reviewed individually to consider ways to address each difficult patient case. After lab, this activity can be completed with two students—one to play the role of the patient and one to play the role of the intern pharmacist.

Review SET 1 Patient Cases and Role-Playing Scripts. Take turns serving as the intern pharmacist and counseling each patient appropriately. When not counseling, role-play the appropriate difficult patient. The student-pharmacist for Prescription 1 should counsel the student role-playing the patient using the acting script for Prescription 1 and so forth. Utilize the Abbreviated Patient Counseling Assessment or the Comprehensive Patient Counseling Assessment rubrics to ensure all necessary aspects of the consultation are covered. Have your patient fill out the rubric following your consultation and provide feedback on what areas were covered well and what was missing.

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