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Chris James
from: Chris James

The Art of Communication, Self Care and Active Listening: A course for GPs and Practice staff in today’s workplace.

An RACGP accredited PD Course    Activity no. 761 125 - Total 40 Category 1 Points

Professions attending were medical practice manager/owner, GP, psychologist and Social worker.

Self care is such an issue for health professionals that the Australian Medical Association’s emphasis for 2011 was on self care for GP’s. To be able to deliver high quality care, service and honoring to patients we first need to deliver it to ourselves.

When stress, tension, anxiety and exhaustion are not addressed they are held in the body and become part of our expression. We reveal much by the tone of our voice. And then, what are we communicating?

The research we conducted during the accreditation process of this course was very revealing. There is a wealth of documented research showing that awareness of communication and active listening skills are essential in order to practice health care safely.

Surgeons’ tone of voice: A clue to malpractice history

Several variables were rated that assessed warmth, hostility, dominance, and anxiety from 10-second voice clips with content and 10-second voice clips with just voice tone.


Controlling for content, ratings of higher dominance and lower concern/anxiety in their voice tones significantly identified surgeons with previous claims compared with those who had no claims.


Surgeons’ tone of voice in routine visits is associated with malpractice claims history. This is the first study to show clear associations between communication and malpractice in surgeons.

(Surgery 2002;132:5-9.)

Also revealed in the research was that if a Doctor allowed a patient to voice all of their concerns without interruption a more successful diagnosis and a higher standard of patient well being resulted. (Note, when patients were able to complete their talking without being interrupted it only took 6 seconds more!!)

During active listening exercises experienced at the course, participants were struck by the feeling that the way they had been listening and communicating was in fact exhausting for themselves and ineffective for their client. This very clear, self-initiated insight brought about the realisation that they were choosing to engage in a mode of communication that was ineffectual and possibly even counterproductive. 

The stark difference between the two realities was deeply felt and acknowledged. The freedom to choose a truer, easier and more effortless way of communicating allowed access to a deeper level within themselves.

The survey sheets completed at the end of the course indicated that the key learning objectives had been well received:

Enhance the doctor/patient relationship and improve the patient’s experience of health care by active listening and interactive communication skills.

To use self-care tools and strategies to release personal stress and anxiety.

Develop self-awareness and reflective interpersonal skills to improve relationships with others.

To deliver information to patients in a way that can be clearly heard, understood, and followed through.

To create a more efficient, supportive and safe medical practice. 

One doctor summed up the experience by writing “ this is the start of a better me, and as such, a better workplace experience.”

If you feel this course would benefit your town’s Health Professionals email the Sounds Wonderful office at  

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