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Assisting medical students to conduct empathic conversations with patients from a sexual medicine clinic
  1. P Henderson,
  2. M H Johnson
  1. Department of Anatomy, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3DY, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
 Professor Johnson;


Objective: To describe an exercise, the structure and content of which assists medical students to conduct potentially embarrassing conversations concerning sexual health which require expression of empathy, to integrate previous learning, to identify their further learning needs, and to develop and test strategies to meet these needs.

Method: Students’ role play, sequentially, speakers (patients) and listeners (clinical students) in a “carousel,” in which all students are engaged at all times in a sequence of pairings which change at rapid intervals. Half way through the exercise, students reflect on the experience, identify difficulties and successes, and develop and share strategies for experimental use in the second half of the exercise.

Results: Qualitative comments from the written student evaluations are reported.

Conclusions: The exercise provides a formative student centred approach to the integration and further development of previously learnt knowledge and skills of value for promoting sexual health education. It is useful for educators interested in promoting more open and informed learning about sexual health.

  • sexual conversations
  • sexual health
  • empathy

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