Case Study outlines strengths of LearningBranch course September 20 2013

"repeated practice with realistic, natural English in a healthcare setting..."



Using Communication Skills for Health Professionals

Date: July 2, 2013

Author:  Karen Brooke, English Instructor, Vancouver Community College, Vancouver Canada

What is VCC’s mission?

Vancouver Community College serves a diverse urban community by providing excellent programs and services that prepare learners for ongoing education, direct entry into employment, career advancement and greater participation in the community.

What does the PACE department do?  Who are the students and what needs do they have? 

The PACE department helps students develop the language and intercultural skills necessary to participate in the workplace. Many of our students are foreign trained professionals who need only to improve their language skills. Others need to recertify, and some decide on a career change that requires further education.

What are Socio-Cultural Competencies and why are they important?

Socio-Cultural Competencies help students integrate into the North American workplace. Every culture has unwritten rules about how social interactions typically proceed, and even immigrants with very good English may worry that they are not fitting in. Socio-Cultural Competencies give students a road map of how to navigate challenging workplace interactions like refusing a request and giving negative feedback to a colleague in a way that is appropriate to the contemporary North American workplace.

What new curriculum did you try using?

Communication Skills for Health Professionals by The LearningBranch.  The first module is focused on Patient-Centred Communication and consists of 10 lessons such as Building Relationships, Empathy and so on.  Each lesson presents one scenario between a clientand provider and covers one or more Socio-Cultural Competencies and related communication skills. 

Students have an opportunity to learn about and practice appropriate language related to skills such as Active Listening, Small Talk, Assertiveness etc.

How did you incorporate it into the curriculum?  Did you use it in class? Online at home?

Students were given time in the computer lab to complete each lesson. Then, after we went back to the classroom, they role played the interactions in groups. Students could then practice each lesson at home on their own time.

What were the strengths of the material and benefits to the students?

The lessons gave students focussed and repeated practice with realistic, natural English in a healthcare setting.

What were the weaknesses?  How can it be improved?

Flash didn’t work well with every browser, and students needed to be reminded to update Flash before using the program at home.

Would you recommend this course and other similar courses being developed?