Our Mission
To promote relational learning for health care professionals that integrates patient and family perspectives, professionalism, and the everyday ethics of clinical practice

CRICO Funds Aligning Expectations Project

cricoWe are thrilled to announce that Craig Lillehei, MD, Surgical Education Chair at BCH, and IPEP are the recipients of a sizeable grant from the Controlled Risk Insurance Company (CRICO). Through their Patient Safety Risk Management Grants Program, CRICO will help support the project entitled “Aligning Family-Team Expectations During Surgical Consent.” This project, built on the pedagogy and foundation of the Program to Enhance Relational and Communication Skills (PERCS), will focus on helping surgeons learn to improve communication and relational skills during the informed consent process to better align surgical team and family expectations. This is a key skill, because surgeons and patients often have misaligned expectations: a given outcome may be seen as a success by the surgeon, but a failure from the perspective of the patient and family. Such mismatch stems from inadequate pre-operative communication, and can lead to frustration, anger, and potentially litigation.


Adena Cohen-Bearak, MEd, MPH

Craig Lillihei, MD and Elaine Meyer, PhD, RN, will serve as co-principal investigators. Team members will include Donna Luff, PhD, Sigall Bell, MD, and Melissa Cousino, PhD, who will bring expertise in simulation-based curriculum development and qualitative research. The study will be coordinated by Adena Cohen-Bearak, M.Ed., MPH, the project’s newly-hired Project Manager. Adena is a Master’s-level public health researcher with over twelve years’ experience coordinating research projects, conducting program evaluations, and specializing in qualitative research, with an additional thirteen years’ experience working in health education. She has worked on research projects at Harvard School of Public Health, Boston Medical Center, and Education Development Center. At Harvard Catalyst/Harvard Medical School, Adena worked on a wide variety of population health issues ranging from childhood obesity to Hepatitis C. There, she focused on developing community-informed, evidence-based research projects to address challenging public health issues. Most recently, she has served as a consultant on several qualitative research and writing projects. As IPEP’s Project Manager of “Aligning Family-Team Expectations During Surgical Consent,” Adena will be coordinating the development and implementation of an innovative, experiential educational initiative that focuses on improving communication/relational skills during the informed consent process to better align surgeon and family expectations for surgery.

Project work begins in May with the development phase, which includes parent and surgeon focus groups, IRB application development, and development of the educational workshops. The project will continue for a year and a half, until December 2016.

Training Across the Midwest – Necessary Conversations

mercy pic

From left: Tamara Vesel, MD, Pamela Varrin, PhD, Robert Bergamini, MD (Medical Director, Palliative Care, Mercy), Brigid O’Connor, and Elizabeth Rider, MSW, MD at Mercy Hospital in Springfield, Missouri

IPEP’s educational consultation team recently returned from a whirlwind week in the Midwest where they presented Necessary Conversations: Enhancing Communication with Patients and Families, a full-day course on palliative care and advance directives, in Oklahoma City, Springfield, and St. Louis, Missouri for the Mercy health system.

IPEP’s team, led by Elizabeth Rider, MSW, MD, IPEP’s Director of Academic Programs and member of the Department of Medicine, included Pamela Varrin, PhD, psychosocial faculty, Tamara Vesel, MD, palliative care content expert, Brigid O’Connor, Performing Arts Consultant, and Allyson McCrary, Program Administration Manager. Months in the planning, IPEP’s team worked closely with a 12-member Mercy team led by Robert Bergamini, MD, Medical Director of Palliative Care, Susan Sinclair, RN, LCSW, CCM, and Lynda Schibler, MAHCM, MEd, RN, to design training focusing on communication skills, palliative care and advance directives for Mercy’s primary care and palliative care physicians, healthcare professionals, clinician-educators and clinical leaders.

The Necessary Conversations course was adapted for Mercy from IPEP’s international faculty development course, Difficult Conversations in Healthcare: Teaching and Practice program. Participants learned about the PERCS pedagogy and a variety of relational teaching strategies for enhancing and teaching communication skills and promoting relationship-centered care. Mercy is a large non-profit healthcare system that includes 46 hospitals, 700 clinics and outpatient facilities and 40,000 employees, and serves seven states – Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.

Interprofessional Course: Difficult Conversations in Healthcare – Openings Available!

Macy PERCS photo-no text -croppedJoin us at Difficult Conversations in Healthcare: Teaching and Practice, a 1-day interprofessional faculty development course that offers the opportunity to learn about a variety of innovative methods for teaching and enhancing communication skills, professionalism, attention to values and ‘everyday ethics’, and interprofessional collaboration and care.  Openings are available for the Saturday, June 6th course!

The course is designed for physicians in all specialties, residency and clerkship directors, medical/healthcare education leaders, clinicians/practitioners who work with patients of any age across the lifespan, multidisciplinary healthcare professionals (nurses, psychologists, social workers, and others), patient safety and quality staff, and others.  Participants will experience and learn about a variety educational strategies including: the Program to Enhance Relational and Communication Skills (PERCS) model, use of narratives, appreciative inquiry, values and everyday ethics, small group team-based learning, interprofessional collaboration and teamwork, videotape/discussion, interactive didactic, large group discussion, and facilitated reflections.  CME /CEU credits are offered for Physicians, Psychologists, Social Workers, & Nurses.  For more information, please click here. To register for either course date, please click here.

PERCS – Radiology Reaches National Audience

radiology emblemIn their April email news, The Society for Pediatric Radiology (SPR) announced our upcoming PERCS – Radiology workshop. The daylong workshop has been approved for 5.25 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™ and three hours of risk management credits. The workshop cost will be $495 for practicing radiologists and $295 for radiologists in training, technologists, nurses, and other allied professionals. The course will remain complimentary to members of the Radiology Department at Boston Children’s Hospital, in gratitude and recognition of the department’s long-standing support of this program although spaces may be limited. We will continue to hold annual workshops for the Boston Children’s Hospital radiology fellows, which are scheduled to be held in Spring 2016.

Looking Through the Eyes of Families: Insights and Tips

ducksResponding to a request from BCH Vice President Patricia Hickey, PhD, MBA, RN, FAAN, we are pleased to announce a new collaboration between IPEP and the Cardiovascular and Critical Care Services. Elaine Meyer, PhD, RN and Dave Browning, MSW, LICSW, working closely with Nurse Managers Michelle Hurtig, MSN, RN, NE-BC, Cheryl O’Connell, MBA, RN, NE-BC, CPHQ and Jason Thornton, RN, MSN, CCRN, CPHQ, NE-BC, developed a one-hour workshop aimed at refreshing staff communication skills, enhancing empathy, and improving the patient and family experience. Entitled “Looking Through the Eyes of Families: Insights and Tips,” the one-hour program includes video triggers, evocative quotes and poetry, and guidance from parents for hospital caregivers. A robust cross-section of staff attended a pilot workshop on Monday, March 16. The session received very positive feedback from participants, and several useful revisions were made to the curriculum based on the group’s input. The workshop will be rolled out and adapted as necessary for staff throughout the Cardiovascular and Critical Care Services units in the coming weeks, with the Nurse Managers taking the lead in teaching their staff. Thank you to the IPEP leadership group for their initial feedback, and special thanks to Family Faculty Facilitator, Meg Comeau, MHA for her thoughtful and specific suggestions for improving the program.

Elaine Meyer delivers a TEDx Longwood Talk

Elaine Meyer, PhD, RN was invited to deliver a TEDxLongwood Talk. Entitled “On Being Present, Not Perfect,” Dr. Meyer draws on both professional and personal experience to illustrate the profound gaps in healthcare communication and how to close them. She introduces the Institute’s educational philosophy of the “one room schoolhouse” and shares a Wizard of OZ metaphor to describe the key ingredients of honest, direct, and genuine conversations. Dr. Meyer interviewed for a feature story about the talk that appeared in Nurse.com, which is part of the Gannett Healthcare Group (USA Today). Her TEDxLongwood Talk has now received nearly 11,000 hits. Most recently, Dr. Meyer has written a Facilitator’s Guide to accompany the Talk, which has been adopted in several nursing and medical schools across the country. You can view the video of this talk here. If you are interested in learning more about the Institute and its philosophy after viewing this talk, please click here.

Register for an upcoming workshop

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Monthly Newsletter

To learn more about some of the exciting developments that have recently occurred within the Institute community, please click here. To view past issues of the newsletter, please click here.

Register for the Difficult Conversations in Healthcare: Teaching & Practice Course

Selected Articles

Microethics: The Ethics of Everyday Clinical Practice
Troug RD, Brown SD, Browning D, Hundert EM, Rider EA, Bell SK, Meyer EC

Courage, brains and heart: Lessons from the Wizard of Oz for difficult healthcare conversations
Meyer EC

The “Open Letter”: Radiologists’ Reports in the Era of Patient Web Portals
Bruno MA, Pestcavage-Thomas JM, Mohr MJ, Bell SK, Brown SD

Come on little lady.
Howley MC

Integrating actors into a simulation program – a primer
Pascucci RC, Weinstock P, O’Connor BE, Fancy KM, Meyer EC

Difficult conversations in health care: Cultivating relational learning to address the hidden curriculum.
Browning DM, Meyer EC, Brodsky DD, Truog RD

PERCS Books & Films

Faculty Education Fellowship in Medical Humanism and Professionalism

Advancing Relational Learning Worldwide

PERCS Rounds

The Cardiovascular and Critical Care PERCS Rounds (“Integrating Complementary Care Modalities: Broadening Care for Patients and Families“) will take place at 12pm on Wednesday, May 20, 2015 at Boston Children’s Hospital, facilitated by IPEP’s Elaine Meyer, Christine Rachwal and Mary Anne Bell.

PERCS – NICU Rounds (“Transitions in July: Welcoming and Supporting Our New Team Members“) will take place at 11am on Thursday, May 28, 2015 at Boston Children’s Hospital, facilitated by IPEP’s Elaine Meyer, Christine Rachwal, Deborah White and Mary Anne Bell.

These monthly forums for Boston Children’s Hospital employees are an opportunity for hospital staff to engage in interdisciplinary discussion and learn about challenging questions in everyday professional practice.  If you are interested in learning more about these events, please contact us.

Archived Features

The IPEP leadership team and faculty have been showcased in a number of feature articles and announcements over the past few years. To read more, click here.