CanMeds Communicator
CanMEDS-FM Communicator Competencies


CanMEDS-FM Communicator Competencies


As Communicators, family physicians facilitate the doctor-patient relationship and the dynamic exchanges that occur before, during, and after the medical encounter.


The patient-physician relationship is central to the role of the family physician. Family physicians integrate a sensitive, skillful, and appropriate search for disease and illness. They demonstrate an understanding of patients’ experiences of illness, their ideas, feelings, and expectations and of the impact of illness on the lives of patients and families. They use repeated contacts with patients to build on the patient-physician relationship and to promote the healing power of interactions. Family physicians have an understanding and appreciation of the human condition, especially the nature of suffering and patients’ response to illness.

Family physicians are adept at working with patients and families to reach common ground on the definition of problems, goals of treatment, and roles of family physician and patient in management. They are skilled at providing information to patients in a manner that respects their autonomy and empowers them to take charge of their own health care and make decisions in their best interests.

Family physicians enable effective dynamic interactions with patients, families, caregivers, health professionals, and other individuals. They communicate in various ways and in a variety of settings through their own initiative or at the request of the patient or family with the purpose of achieving the best health outcomes for patients but also to comfort, reassure, and alleviate suffering.

Family physicians are able to establish and maintain effective communication in the face of patients’ disabilities, cultural differences, age group differences and in challenging situations.

The competencies of this role are essential for establishing rapport and trust, formulating a diagnosis, delivering information, striving for mutual understanding, and facilitating a shared plan of care.

Components of the Communicator Role

Key Competencies and Enabling Competencies

Family physicians use the patient-centred clinical method, and&hellip

1. Develop rapport, trust and ethical therapeutic relationships with patients and families

1.1 Recognize that being a good communicator is a core clinical skill for physicians, and that physician-patient communication can foster patient satisfaction, physician satisfaction, adherence and improved clinical outcomes

1.2 Establish positive therapeutic relationships with patients and their families that are characterized by understanding, trust, respect, honesty and empathy

1.3 Respect patient confidentiality, privacy and autonomy

1.4 Listen effectively

1.5 Develop awareness of, and responsiveness to, non-verbal cues

1.6 Facilitate a structured clinical encounter

1.7 Acquire skills of cross-cultural communication

1.8 Respect boundaries in the doctor-patient relationship

2. Accurately elicit and synthesize information from, and perspectives of, patients and families, colleagues and other professionals

2.1 Gather information about a disease, but also about a patient’s beliefs, concerns, expectations and illness experience

2.2 Explore the patient’s psychosocial context

2.3 Seek out and synthesize information from other sources, such as a patient’s family, caregivers and other professionals

2.4 Conduct an interview with multiple participants to gather information about factors affecting the patient

3. Accurately convey needed information and explanations to patients and families, colleagues and other professionals

3.1 Deliver information to a patient and family, colleagues and other professionals in a humane manner and in such a way that it is understandable and encourages discussion and participation in decision-making

3.2 Disclose error / adverse events in an effective manner

4. Develop a common understanding on issues, problems and plans with patients and families, colleagues and other professionals to develop, provide and follow-up on a shared plan of care

4.1 Effectively identify and explore problems to be addressed from a patient encounter, including the patient’s context, responses, concerns, and preferences

4.2 Respect diversity and difference, including but not limited to the impact of gender, religion and cultural beliefs on decision-making

4.3 Encourage discussion, questions, and interaction in the encounter

4.4 Engage patients, families, and relevant health professionals in shared decision-making to develop a plan of care

4.5 Communicate effectively as a member or leader of a health care team or other professional group

4.6 Provide follow-up contact with patient and family using a form of communication that will achieve the best outcome for the patient and family

4.7 Effectively address challenging communication issues such as motivating behavioural change, delivering bad news, and addressing anger or dependency

4.8 Provide therapeutic interventions through supportive and other counseling techniques used in primary care

4.9 Communicate utilizing an interpreter

5. Convey effective oral and written information

5.1 Maintain clear, accurate, and appropriate records (e.g., written and electronic) of clinical encounters and plans

5.2 Use effective written and oral communication for referral and collaborative care.

5.3 Effectively present verbal reports of clinical encounters and plans

5.4 Communicate appropriately using electronic mail and other electronic means, while maintaining patient confidentiality

5.5 When requested or needed by a community, present medical information to the public or media about a medical issue