Physician-Patient Relationship

Communicate like Dr. Fauci? Training helps doctors talk the talk

Brendan Murphy , Senior News Writer

The COVID-19 pandemic, and the misinformation surrounding it, has heightened the need for reliable physician advocates in the public health arena. Now the AMA is giving doctors the training they need to step up their efforts to help fill that void.

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“During this pandemic, people are facing something they’ve never seen before,” said Kathy Schaeffer, a strategic communications expert, and principal of Kathy Schaeffer Consulting, LLC. “They are afraid. It’s changed our entire lives. It has killed our loved ones. And we are desperate for information and guidance on how to keep ourselves healthy and children safe.”

The public’s desperate thirst for reliable information is one that Schaeffer believes doctors can fill.

“Doctors possess a unique credibility because they are trained in the art and science of medicine,” Schaeffer said. “They see patients every day and keep up on literature. People trust physicians in a way that they don’t trust somebody who is wearing a business suit. Physicians have such intense training and are people who have devoted their lives to caring for other people.”

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To create more vocal physician leaders in public health, Schaeffer and the AMA have collaborated on a CME module, “Training Physicians in the Art of the Public Forum.” The module helps physicians more skillfully and effectively engage the public on important issues and policies in health care.

The CME module is enduring material and designated by the AMA for a maximum of 0.5 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™️. The module is part of the AMA Ed Hub™️, an online platform with high-quality CME and education that supports the professional development needs of physicians and other health professionals. With topics relevant to you, it also offers an easy, streamlined way to find, take, track and report educational activities.

Learn more about AMA CME accreditation

A moment for experts

Most physicians will not find themselves frequently appearing on TV like AMA President Susan R. Bailey, MD, or Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Disease. A member of President Trump’s White House coronavirus task force and now a top adviser to President Joe Biden, Dr. Fauci has proven to be an effective—and beloved—communicator on issues relating to the pandemic.

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Schaeffer points out that there are a variety of ways to influence public health, and very few involve answering questions from the White House press corps. The module helps physicians at all levels better prepare for public speaking opportunities and media interviews through skilled and confident communication. Participants will learn best practices for effective communication, including how the AMA trains its leaders to carry the message of the organization to diverse audiences.

“Many physicians feel it is an extension of their practice to speak to groups,” Schaeffer said. “That might be as simple as speaking at their child’s school or perhaps their practice does community outreach. This training will help them determine the best way to organize what they want to say, how they can effectively say it, and give them some other ideas on how to think strategically about how they communicate.”

Learn with the AMA about four key public speaking tips for physicians.