Stop, Talk, Roll: How to deal with tough communication exchanges in the medical workplace

Throughout the course of your career, there will be a range of situations in the hospital or clinical setting that will make you uncomfortable. These disconcerting situations can run the full spectrum and involve interns, residents, attendings, nurses, healthcare staff, administrators, patients and the families of patients. 

These incidences can occur at anytime and can happen to anyone. Some examples of situations that you might find yourself in during rotation include:

  • Experience mistreatment firsthand by being called a racial slur by a patient or member of the medical staff.
  • Witness any healthcare professional who makes a sexist comment to another health care professional and seeing that person become uncomfortable or embarrassed.
  • Observe an attending and resident making jokes related to gender identity or gender stereotypes in a group in front of other residents.
  • Being the target of pointed, belittling, sarcastic comments such as, “What’s the matter with you? - You should know this already! Or “What’s wrong with you – you call yourself a doctor?” or “You’re not trying hard enough” and “Just get out of my OR.”
  • Feeling ignored, as if you are being isolated from the rest of the team and not being engaged by others.

Physicians, as leaders, must have the words and communication skills to interact, interpret, and navigate these uncomfortable, and potentially distressing situations where they feel disrespected or discriminated against.

In meeting this goal, Stop, Talk, Roll (STR) is a communication guidance tool that has been designed to provide suggested phrases and approaches for medical students and residents to addressing particular scenarios and diffuse tense communication exchanges with a wide range of stakeholders. STR training and guidance will be provided to medical students, residents and medical staff this coming fall.

STR also provides pathways for seeking out help and support to navigate the scenarios, which include seeking out support from your residency program leadership, including: chief residents, program directors and associate program directors.

Access Stop, Talk, Roll Guide for Medical Students Here     Access Stop, Talk, Roll Guide for Residents Here

What to do with inappropriate behavior? Stop, Talk, Roll

Step 1: Stop