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April 21, 2024 42 mins

Amy Flanagan has had a diverse career journey that led her to a unique role in medical education. Initially pursuing acting from a young age her passion shifted, leading her to the Uniformed Services University, the U.S. military's medical school. There, she played patients with different illnesses, aiding medical students in honing their diagnostic and communication skills.

Her enthusiasm for teaching through experience propelled her to become the director of the facility, a role she cherished until 2015 when she retired due to a diagnosis of narcolepsy. She continues to contribute as a part-time consultant, specializing in helping doctors improve their communication skills, especially in delivering challenging news to patients.

Amy highlights the need for enhanced communication training in medical education, noting that while it's present, it often gets overshadowed by other curriculum demands. She emphasizes the importance of doctors learning to convey compassion and empathy effectively, particularly in delivering distressing diagnoses or news.

Amy talks about the human aspect of healthcare professionals and the significance of providing support and guidance to navigate difficult conversations with patients. She shares anecdotes illustrating the impact of effective communication and the challenges inherent in delivering bad news. In her current role, Amy offers individualized training and support to improve communication skills. 

Drawing from personal experiences, including the loss of her sister to a rare illness, Amy emphasizes the unpredictability of life's challenges and the importance of accepting and preparing for difficult circumstances. She emphasizes the need for empathy and understanding in healthcare, acknowledging the emotional toll on both patients and providers.

Amy's commitment to improving communication in medicine reflects a broader societal need for compassionate and empathetic care. My episode on her podcast The Savvy Communicator. 

@savvycommunicator on all social media 

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