Doctors Have a Hard Job

January 30, 2019 by celia

“Few patients realize how deeply they can affect their doctors,” notes Dr. Scott Haig. In his Time Magazine article (10/5/2007) he goes on to say, “That is a big secret in medicine, which doctors hate to admit. (more…)

The Illusion of Caring—is That Enough?

January 6, 2019 by celia

I recently stumbled upon a writing exercise completed by a patient who participated in the “Writing is Good Medicine”TM, program, which I created to help patients put words to their experience of living with illness. Participants were encouraged to share their writing with family and healthcare providers in order to open communication about issues and concerns. For one exercise I posed the question, “What do you expect from your doctors?” (more…)

Questions Only God Can Answer

November 28, 2018 by celia

In the early 2000’s the Center for Communication in Medicine created a program for physicians at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center titled “Doctors Conversation Hour.” (more…)


October 24, 2018 by celia

The Journal Intime
Henri Frederic Amiel

Recently, I was reminded of a patient from time passed who had asked me, “How does one live with uncertainty?”

In The Wounded Story Teller writer and patient Arthur Frank notes, “When a doctor tells us we are sick they are not just diagnosing us—they are initiating a new chapter in the story of our lives. What would it be like for patients to tell their stories and doctors to read them?” (more…)

Quality of Life – We All Want It But What Is It?

September 26, 2018 by celia

In Man’s Search for Meaning Victor Frankl said, “The quest for meaning is central to the human condition, and we are brought in touch with a sense of meaning when we reflect on that which we have created, loved, believed in or left as a legacy.”  (more…)

SpeakSooner Fall Community Education Film is “Patch Adams”

September 21, 2018 by celia

On Saturday October 20, 6pm at Oldcastle Theatre there will be a screening of “Patch Adams”, starring the inimitable Robin Williams as a medical student clashing with the school’s administration over his efforts to humanize the doctor-patient relationship. The film “showcases [Williams’s] great gift for improvisational comedy and his ability to make heartfelt connection,” states Tom Keogh, Watch the trailer here.

After the film a panel of local doctors will discuss the challenges of incorporating humanism in medical training and practice, followed by a Q&A session and dessert reception. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased by calling Oldcastle Theatre at (802) 447-0564 or by clicking here.

The SpeakSooner film series is offered by the Center for Communication in Medicine (CCM) to educate the public about how to improve healthcare communication and quality of care. To learn more about CCM programs and communication tools visit


August 13, 2018 by celia

I’d been thinking about the topic of my next blog when I found myself catapulted back in time to 2008 and an article written by Dr. John Launer in the Postgraduate Medical Journal, which referenced my work as a medical humanist. It was titled, Learning Humanity. (more…)

SpeakSooner Community Forum at Equinox Village, Manchester, VT

July 25, 2018 by celia

On Thursday, August 30 from 5– 6:30pm the Bennington, VT-based Center for Communication in Medicine (CCM) will offer a SpeakSooner community education forum, Re-defining Quality of Life: Living Fully With Illness, Disability and Aging. Equinox Village in Manchester, VT is hosting the event. The program is free and open to the public.

The forum will explore the complicated issues surrounding quality of life concerns when facing the effects of illness, disabilities and aging. Panelists for the program include: palliative care physician Dr. Allen Hutcheson, Bayada nurse Sarah Sigsbury, Equinox Village residents Gerald and Pat Carr, and medical humanist Celia Engel Bandman. CCM founder Dr. Bernard Bandman will moderate the program.

Healthcare decisions and quality of life considerations are making an impact across all sectors of society. Over the past eighteen years CCM has developed hands-on tools and educational programs that help promote open and honest communication between patients, family caregivers and healthcare professionals, resulting in better informed decisions about care, greater patient satisfaction and reduced healthcare costs.

Space is limited. To reserve a place please contact Kylee Ryan at 802-362-4061 or

Equinox Village is located at 49 Maple Street, Manchester Center, VT 05255.

Living With Uncertainty Punctuated

July 11, 2018 by celia

Recently I was asked if I had read “The Well-Tempered Sentence: A Punctuation Handbook for the Innocent, the Eager and Doomed” by Karen Elizabeth Gordon.

I confessed that I often ignore the rules of punctuation. (more…)

Bandman keynote speaker at spring meeting of the American College of Surgeons -Vermont Chapter

June 25, 2018 by celia

On Thursday June 14, 2018, The Center for Communication in Medicine’s (CCM) Executive Director, Dr. Bernard Bandman, was the keynote speaker at the spring meeting of the American College of Surgeons -Vermont Chapter in Quechee, VT.

Dr. Bandman’s presentation, Difficult Conversations with Patients and Families Facing Serious Illness, prompted rich discussion about the challenges surgeons face when delivering bad news. As Dr. Bandman notes, “Doctors have a hard job. Diagnostic information about results of surgery or biopsy can be hard for patients and families to hear as well as doctors to say. And, when discussing a plan of care, patients and loved ones may have difficulty recalling what the doctor said because bad news can be emotionally overwhelming.” Dr. Bandman offered strategies for effective communication about hard-to-talk about subjects. Included in the presentation was an introduction to the Difficult Conversations Toolkit® which is the cornerstone of CCM’s SpeakSooner programs to help prepare patients to actively engage in openly discussing risks and benefits of treatment options and quality of life considerations sooner in the course of illness. Dr. Bandman cited studies that showed improved doctor-patient communication results in greater patient satisfaction and reduced health care costs.

Southwestern Vermont Health Care’s Dr. Simon P. Drew, President of American College of Surgeons-Vermont chapter, invited Dr. Bandman to be the keynote speaker where over 30 surgeons attended.


Dr. Bernard M. Bandman speaking at the American College of Surgeons spring meeting.