Applied Medical Communication

General Course Information

Course Description

Applied Medical Communication is designed to help students develop communication skills for the medical interview.  Students will discuss the impact of culture on medical professionalism and how that relates to doctor-patient interaction. Students will identify culturally appropriate modes of communicating with patients.  Students will have the opportunity to practice these skills and techniques through interviewing peers and simulated patients.  Students will discuss and evaluate performances of themselves, their peers, and professionals.

This course is divided into three themed modules, allowing students to develop and apply language, skills, and strategies within a meaningful context. Each module culminates in a final standardized patient interview where students will demonstrate their mastery of the language, skills, and strategies from that module and previous modules.

The course carries 1 credit and meets for one 50-minute session per week over the 16-week term, following the calendar of St. George’s University School of Arts and Sciences.  The course is composed of interactive, face-to-face classes.  

Student Learning Outcomes 

  1. Explain the role of culture in medicine and medical professionalism
  2. Discuss the cultural norms for medical professionalism in a North American context
  3. Demonstrate culturally appropriate communication in the medical interview
  4. Demonstrate history taking 
  5. Describe effective interviewing techniques
  6. Develop the grammar and pragmatic skills required for effective interviewing
  7. Practice interviewing skills and gain confidence in conducting medical interviews

*EMP course goals can be found in the Program Syllabus

Course Instructor





Emily Harms

Course Director

444-4175 (ext. 3263)

Contacting Instructor

All faculty appointments need to be made using YouCanBookMe. Use the links below to set up individual appointments with the faculty. 

Emily Harms:            

The Department of Educational Services is open from 08:00–17:00 during weekdays and is closed over the weekend and public holidays.

Emails must be professionally formatted, use professional language, and include an informative subject line. Emails without an informative subject line will be regarded as spam and will not be opened for security reasons.

SGU email is the official email communication tool for this course and the university. All correspondence received from outside email addresses will be ignored. In the event of a university-wide system crash, an assignment may be accepted from an outside email address to avoid being counted as a late submission; however, instructors will not respond to external emails. 

Communication Expectations

I will read and respond to emails Monday-Friday. I check emails in the morning and afternoon Grenada time.   

Classroom Policies


The use of cell phones or other technology for non-class related purposes is not allowed. 

Laptop Use

If learning remotely, you should take part in Zoom sessions with a computer and not your smartphone. We will use computers in class to discuss readings, share documents, watch videos, do role plays, begin write-ups, and interview standardized patients.


You must be sitting in your seat or logged in to Zoom with the camera on when class begins. Tardiness is unprofessional, and it is distracting to your instructors and peers; as a result, frequent tardiness can significantly impact your attendance.  If you miss more than 5 minutes of a class, you will be marked absent. 

Missing Class

If you miss class, it is your responsibility to take the necessary steps to meet the requirements for missing class which include 

  1. checking the 'Panopto' tab to watch the video recording from class that day
  2. checking the 'Lessons' tab to access the material that was covered in class
  3. asking a classmate if you have any questions about content or materials.  If you still require assistance after those three steps have been taken, please email the instructor.

Attendance and Class Expectations

SGU requires that students “attend all classes […] for which they have registered”

(SGU Student Manual, 2020, p. 7). Attendance and participation in the English for Medicine Pathways courses is mandatory and is 10% of your course grade. Students, both in-person and online, should be prepared at the start of all synchronous class sessions.  Students are also expected to complete all asynchronous (offline) class activities on time.

Attendance also includes professional conduct and active participation, as “the University considers participation to be an essential component of professionalism” (SGU Student Manual, 2020, p. 60). The required behaviors and attitudes include those identified in the Student Manual’s specific policies (pp. 59-60) and those in the statements listed below. 

  • You must...
    • Be appropriately clothed o Have access to SGU’s Student Portal
    • Complete assignments on time and be prepared for class o If learning online, know how to access Zoom sessions through your course’s Sakai page  
  • To actively participate, you should...
    • Ask questions when necessary
    • Add input through stating your opinions and responding to classmates o Complete in-class assignments and actively engage in discussions o Join breakout rooms or in-person small groups when asked  o If learning online, turn video on when requested
  • Your computer must...
    • Be on and fully charged before the start of class o Have a stable internet connection
    • Have a working video camera and microphone
  • Your location must... (if learning online) o Have minimal background distractions (i.e., no people walking behind you)
    • Be quiet
    • Have adequate lighting (we should be able to see your face clearly)
  • In synchronous class sessions, you should... (if learning online)  o Join meeting and be prepared by the start of the meeting o Use ‘chat’ appropriately o Have microphone on when speaking
  • If you need to take a quick break, let us know in the chat box; then turn off your camera and mute your microphone. If you will be gone more than a couple minutes, it will impact your participation score.
  • In synchronous class session, you should… (if in person) o Arrive to the classroom before the start of class o Have the necessary technology set up

*If you anticipate that you will be unable to meet the attendance or participation requirements, or if an unanticipated circumstance prevents you from meeting the requirements, notify your course instructors before the next class/deadline.

*Please see the EMP Program Syllabus for policies on academic integrity.

Table 1. Attendance and participation point breakdown


1 attendance point per class day

0.5 point for arriving 1-4 minutes late

0. points for arriving 5 or more minutes late

1. participation point per class day

  • Active participation is showing active listening and engaging in the class activities. 
  • 0.5 point for partial participation 
  • 0 points for no participation 
Components of the Course

Interactive Classes

This class meets for one 50-minute class per week. This schedule is available on Sakai.

Interactive Class Format

  • 20-30% Teacher-led instruction
  • 70-80% In-class individual, pair, and group tasks


 Coulehan, J. L., & Block, M. R. (2006). The medical interview: Mastering skills for clinical practice. Philadelphia: F.A. Davis Company.


The required textbook can be purchased or rented from or other online retailers such as:



Chegg Books:  


The required textbook can also be rented from the SGU library or purchased from the SGU bookstore on campus.

Course Materials

All course materials, including lecture slides, handouts, additional readings, etc. will be posted on Sakai.

Course Assignments General Information 

I. Assignment Guidelines

A specific set of guidelines is issued for each assignment. Review those carefully along with the rubric for each assignment. Guidelines are posted in the Assignment and Course Guidelines folder in Sakai Resources.

II. Submitting Assignments

You must submit an electronic copy of each assignment to Sakai unless otherwise stated. It is your responsibility to ensure that your assignments are properly submitted to Sakai. We highly recommend logging back on to Sakai five–ten minutes after you submit to confirm that your assignment is there.  

III. Deadlines

Part of learning to behave professionally is learning to follow deadlines. All tasks and assignments to be submitted for marking will have specific deadlines. All work must be submitted on or before the stated deadline. For online submissions, make sure you are submitting assignments at least 15 minutes before the deadline so if there is a technical issue during submission, you can try troubleshooting.

        IV.  Late Assignments

Late assignments will NOT be accepted unless previous arrangements are made on a case-by-case basis with the instructors. If you must miss class for a medical reason, you are required to provide a doctor’s note for the date you were absent. If we notice this becomes a habit, we will note it in your professionalism report.

Table 2. Course assessments and percentage of grade



Role Plays & Reflections

Module 1

Module 2

Module 3

Standardized Patient Interviews  & Reflections

Module 1 

Module 3


Culture Assignment











 Weekly Assignments



Attendance & Participation


Note. Students must meet the minimum academic standards for the Preclinical Sciences Program. Refer to the Student Manual. Also, students must earn a minimum of 69.5% in each EMP English course.

Course Assignments 

      I.           Role Plays and Reflections

Students will participate in three roleplays outside of class based on given scenarios within the context of the medical interview.  The role plays allow students to practice skills and concepts covered in class to prepare for each of the standardized patient interviews. Students will work in pairs or groups of 3 and record their roleplays so they can reflect on their performance and their peer’s performance in these role plays and submit written reflections. These assignments will be worth a set number of points each and will be evaluated using guidelines and rubrics found on Sakai.  Students will be assessed based on their mastery of skills and concepts covered in class as well as their self-awareness in the reflection.

      II.   Standardized Patient Interviews and Reflections 

Students will conduct two medical interviews with a standardized patient to demonstrate mastery of skills and concepts covered in class through effective doctor-patient communication. Students will reflect on their performance and submit reflections.  These assignments will be worth a set number of points each and will be evaluated using guidelines and rubrics found on Sakai. The weeks we have standardized patients, students will work in smaller groups and may have to meet at a different time. 

      III.        Culture Assignment

In order to engage with culture, students will complete a project where they investigate elements of their cultural identity including socioeconomic status, gender identify, race, ethnicity, and religious identity and reflect on how these could impact their work with their future patients especially in the context of the medical interview. 

      IV.        Weekly Assignments 

Students will complete various course assignments. These assignments are designed for students to practice the relevant skills developed throughout the course and prepare students for role plays and standardized patient interviews. They include readings, quizzes, short written assignments (e.g. summaries, paraphrases, paragraphs, reflections, and responses), vocabulary development, videos, and discussions. Each of these assignments is worth 2 points.  These assignments (except for the quizzes) will be evaluated holistically on whether students have demonstrated the learning outcome(s) for the task. Please see below for how course assignments will be graded.  





Completion of Task

Task is thoroughly complete and submitted on time. 

Task is somewhat complete and submitted on time

Task is incomplete or not submitted on time


Engagement with Task

Student response demonstrates critical engagement with the task, e.g., it is evident student put thought and effort into task 

Student response demonstrates minimal engagement with the task e.g., it is evident student put a bare minimum of thought and effort into task 

Student response does not demonstrate engagement with the task

       V.      Attendance and Participation 

See information about attendance and participation above. Each day you are in class, you will receive 1 attendance point. If you are late to class, a half point (.5) will be deducted from your daily attendance record. If you are 5 or more minutes late, you will not receive an attendance point.  

In class, you can earn 1 participation point by actively listening and engaging in the class activities. 

Course Evaluation 

Table 2. School of Arts and Sciences Grading Scale

                                                      Letter                                  Grade Point                                      Percent



                                                           A+                                              4.0             100

  1. 4.0 90-99

                                                           B+                                               3.5         85-89

  1. 3.0 80-84

                                                           C+                                               2.5          75-79

  1. 2.0 70-74
  2. 1.0 65-69

                                                        F                                          0                   0-64




Course Schedule

Applied Medical Communication Schedule: Fall 2021








Module 1: Foundations of the Medical Interview (Angina) 

Week 1

Intro to the Course and Medical Interviewing  

January 18

  • Syllabus review 
  • Q & A
  • Introduction to the Medical Interview 


Review the syllabus


Week 2

Foundations of the Medical Interview 

January 25

  • Chapter Activities 
  • Chapter 1: Interviewing as a Clinical Skill
  • Chapter 3: Chief Complaint and Present Illness (end at page 65) 


  • Review Ch. 1 & 3
  • Take the Sakai Quiz


Week 3

Foundations of the Medical Interview Continued

February 1

  • Chapter Activities
  • Chapter 4: Other Activities Problems, Past Medical History, and Family History   
  • Review Chapter 4
  • Review Angina Article
  • Chapter 4 and Angina Article Assignment 

Week 4

Foundations of the Medical Interview Continued

February 8

   Independent Interview  Practice

   Role Play & Reflection 

Week 5

Foundations of the Medical Interview Continued

February 15 & 17

   Standardized Patient Interview  

Standardized Patient Interview Reflection 





Tues Feb 15

11:30 am – 12:30 pm


  • Jubril
  • Leatile





Wed Feb 16

11 am – 12 pm


  • Yanmife
  • Bisola
  • Chioma

Thurs Feb 17

10 – 11 am


  • Rita
  • Onome
  • Anita


Module 2:  Empathy & Culture (Pain)

Week 6


February 22

  • Chapter Activities 
  • Chapter 2: Respect, Genuineness, and Empathy 
  • Review Ch. 2
  • Take the Sakai Quiz 

Week 7

Empathy Continued

March 1

  • Chapter Activities 
  • Chapter 2: Respect, Genuineness, and Empathy

            no HW 

Week 8

Empathy Continued 

March 8

            Empathy Roleplay

   Module 2 Role Play &


Week 9


March 15

  • Chapter Activities
  • Chapter 12: Cultural Competence in the Interview
  • Assign and Discuss Culture Project  

Chapter 12 Assignment 

Week 10

Culture Continued   

March 22

Chapter 12: Cultural Competence in the Interview

Culture Assignment 


Module 3: Challenges of the Medical Interview  

Week 11

Sexual History Part 1

March 29

The Sexual History: Activities and video analysis

  • Sexual history assignment
  • Take Sakai Quiz

Week 12

Sexual History Part 2 


No synchronous class

  • Video analysis
  • Sample sexual history scripts
  • End of Module 2 Anonymous Survey


Week 13



No synchronous class

  • Sexual History Roleplay 
  • Roleplay and reflection 

Week 14

Challenging Patients Part 1



Chapter Activities Chapter 3: Chief Complaint and Present Illness (pages 65-69)

  • Review Chapter 3(only pages 65-69) 
  • Complete DLA 


Week 15

Challenging Patients Part 2  

April 12

  • Chapter Activities
  • Chapter 13: Difficult Patient-Clinician Interactions 
  • Review Chapter 13 
  • Chapter 13 assignment 

Week 16

The Final Showdown 

May 3  

Standardized Patient Interview  


Note: Interview times to be determined based on final exam schedules 

  • Standardized Patient Interview Reflection
  • Course Feedback 

Note. This schedule may change. Students will be notified of all changes through Sakai. 

School of Arts and Sciences Master Syllabi — Info for All Sections

Plagiarism Policy

Academic Integrity

The St. George’s University Student Manual (2019/2020) states as follows:

Plagiarism is regarded as a cardinal offense in academia because it constitutes theft of the work of someone else, which is then purported as the original work of the plagiarist. Plagiarism draws into disrepute the credibility of the Institution, its faculty, and students; therefore, it is not tolerated” (p. 48).

Plagiarism also includes the unintentional copying or false accreditation of work, so double check your assignments BEFORE you hand them in.

Be sure to do good, honest work, credit your sources and reference accordingly and adhere to the University’s Honor Code. Plagiarism and cheating will be dealt with very seriously following the university’s policies on Plagiarism as outlined in the Student Manual.

Your work may be subject to submission to plagiarism detection software, submission to this system means that your work automatically becomes part of that database and can be compared with the work of your classmates.

Attendance Requirement

The St. George’s University Student Manual (2019/2020) states as follows:

Students are expected to attend all classes and or clinical rotations for which they have registered. Although attendance may not be recorded at every academic activity, attendance may be taken randomly. Students’ absence may adversely affect their academic status as specified in the grading policy. If absence from individual classes, examinations, and activities, or from the University itself is anticipated, or occurs spontaneously due to illness or other extenuating circumstances, proper notification procedures must be followed. A particular course may define additional policies regarding specific attendance or participation” (p. 9).

Examination Attendance

The St. George’s University Student Manual (2019/2020) states as follows:

All matriculated students are expected to attend all assigned academic activities for each course currently registered. Medical excuses will be based on self-reporting by students. Students who feel they are too sick to take an examination or other required activity on a specific day must submit the online SAS medical excuse, which is available on Carenage. Students are only allowed two such excuses a year. Upon consultation with the Director of University Health Service, the third excuse will result in a mandatory medical leave of absence. The policies regarding make-up examinations are at the option of the Course Director” (p.46).

For additional specific examination policies and procedures, refer to the St. George’s University Student Manual (2019/2020), pages 31 through 37.

Student Accessibility and Accommodation Services Policy

The St. George’s University Student Manual (2019/2020) states as follows:

A student with a disability or disabling condition that affects one or more major life activities, who would like to request an accommodation, must submit a completed application form and supporting documentation to the Student Accessibility and Accommodation Services (SAAS) located in the Dean of Students Office. It is highly recommended that students applying for accommodations do so at least one month before classes begin to allow for a more efficient and timely consideration of the request. If a fully completed application is not submitted in a timely fashion, an eligibility determination may not be made, and accommodations, where applicable, may not be granted prior to the commencement of classes and/or examinations” (p. 8).


It is the responsibility of the student to read and understand the policies, laws, rules and procedures that while they could affect your grade for a course, have not been specifically outlined in the course syllabus. These are contained in the St. George’s University Student Manual.