VitalTalk Training Emphasizes Compassionate Conversations For Enhanced Clinical Interactions

New Book Explores Expert Strategies in ‘Navigating Communication with Seriously Ill Patients Balancing Honesty with Empathy and Hope – The VitalTalk Method

SEATTLE, May 16, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — In a complex medical environment, seriously ill patients and family members need support navigating the healthcare system and deciding on the best courses of treatment. VitalTalk was developed to ensure that every patient is cared for by clinicians who can speak with them about what matters most at this difficult time.

After years of developing and studying methods to teach communication skills, Drs. Anthony Back, Robert Arnold and James Tulsky launched VitalTalk in 2012 to train clinicians how to have the most difficult conversations with seriously ill patients and their families. When delivering tough news and counseling about health care decisions, too often, clinicians lose sight of the patient’s perspective. The VitalTalk approach helps clinicians understand the importance of both providing information and acknowledging patients’ emotional responses to their illnesses.

Dr. James Tulsky, Poorvu-Jaffe Chair of Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School confirms, “Communication is a skill, like any other in medicine, that people can be trained to perform better. Clinicians are no exception. How we communicate to our patients and their family members is as essential as choosing the correct drugs.” It’s been said by many medical professionals that VitalTalk is the go-to place for learning how to talk with seriously ill patients and their families.

The book, Mastering Communication with Seriously Ill Patients: Balancing Honesty with Empathy and Hope (2009) is viewed by many as a must read. For their revised updated version of Navigating Communication with Seriously Ill Patients: Balancing Honesty with Empathy and Hope – The VitalTalk Method Drs. Back, Arnold and Tulsky added essential co-authors to help update the book and bring in the most recent clinical thinking. Drs. Gordon Wood, Elise Carey and Holly Yang were early participants in VitalTalk and have been integral in the organization’s growth during the last 20 years. Combined, they hold leadership positions in organized medicine and medical education – and have received numerous awards for teaching serious illness communication skills and educating other teachers. These three co-authors have recently contributed to Cambridge University Press’s blog FifteenEightyFour

Navigating Communication with Seriously Ill Patients: 9781108925853: Medicine & Health Science Books @ is available now on Amazon and coming soon to major U.S. bookstores.

VitalTalk is the premier training organization for clinicians seeking to advance their communication skills. Whether in person or online, clinicians feel safe practicing newly learned skills through VitalTalk’s evidence-based training methodologies using simulated patients, all in a confidential setting.

All clinicians from a variety of disciplines leave VitalTalk’s courses feeling more confident in their ability to deliver serious news and discuss goals of care. Upon completion, individuals become part of the deeply committed VitalTalk community which offers continued support, including additional train-the-trainer Faculty Development programs, so one can further integrate better communication skills within a medical setting or institution.

For more information on VitalTalk, go to, or Navigating Communication with Seriously Ill Patients: Balancing Honesty with Empathy and Hope – The VitalTalk Method please reach out to our media contact, Nancy Michaels at [email protected], or 617-905-4711 (mobile).

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