Conversation Hours for Doctors & Nurses

“To prescribe pills is easy
but to reach an understanding with people is hard.”

Franz Kafka

CCM developed the “Conversation Hour for Doctors” to help doctors explore the demands and emotional stresses of their work and examine how these pressures influence their clinical practice and approach to communicating with patients. Similarly, the “Conversation Hour for Nurses” offered nurses at the medical center an opportunity to examine and reflect upon their changing role and the challenges of being at the crossroads between patient, family and physician.

Selected readings and writing exercises were assigned before each monthly meeting. The “homework” served as content for candid discussions about the challenges facing medical professionals caring for patients with chronic and life-limiting illness. The Doctors and Nurses Conversation Hours were organized separately in order to foster open conversations among peers. Due to budgetary cuts, a plan to merge the physicians and nurses groups had to be suspended.

Listen here to doctors discussing the Conversation Hour program on Vermont Public Radio.

The conversations that took place during these programs continue to inform CCM’s work.

Doctors & Nurses Reflect on CCM’s Conversation Hour

“We have discussed what we find meaningful about our work, examined the patient-physician relationship, and looked outside technical literature into prose and poetry by patients and physicians for the humanistic perspective. We have been given assignments: Write for ten minutes about our response when a patient asks us a question only God can answer. … I would propose that the better grasp we as providers possess on the complex interrelationship of patient and physician, the better outcomes in patient satisfaction, risk management, and physician burnout we might see.”

Peter King, MD
Medical Director, VA Clinic/Vermont Veterans Home
Bennington, VT

“[CCM’s monthly physician forum] gives us a supported chance to face the human challenges in our work, where we or our patients get stuck, and helps us then better identify these places so that we may be less stuck, and more useful. There is generally a palpable sense of relief among participants at the end of each meeting, as we each address our own inner work in a constructive way.”

John Hearst, MD
Bennington Family Practice
Bennington, VT

“The Hours’ focus on ‘listening’ as a key element in communication between doctors and nurses as well as between doctors, nurses, patients and family members proved to be most helpful. I discovered how listening to one another could change the flavor of the interaction into one that’s therapeutic and even healing.”

K. Canaan, RN
Southwestern Vermont Medical Center
Bennington, VT

“Thank you for these interesting few months which allowed me to reflect on my career. I learned that we [nurses, doctors, patients and family] are all dealing with difficult situations every day and what we take away from the experience can be an opportunity for learning from each other. I will miss our monthly conversations.”

J. Caslin, RN
Southwestern Vermont Medical Center
Bennington, VT

“I learned that improving lines of communication between patient, doctor and nurses is of benefit to all. And I will strive to improve this aspect of nursing care.”

Julie Bowen, RN
Southwestern Vermont Medical Center
Bennington, VT