Curriculum Guideline

Interpersonal Communication for Dental Assisting Students

Effective Date:
Course
Discontinued
No
Course Code
CMNS 1215
Descriptive
Interpersonal Communication for Dental Assisting Students
Department
Communications
Faculty
Language, Literature & Performing Arts
Credits
3.00
Start Date
End Term
201430
PLAR
No
Semester Length
15
Max Class Size
25
Contact Hours
4 hrs
Method Of Instruction
Lecture
Seminar
Methods Of Instruction

This highly interactive course emphasizes learning through doing. Working individually or in small groups, students are involved in focused practise, analysis and interpretation of interpersonal communication. A discussion-based teaching model is used with the expectation that students actively prepare for, participate in and extract meaning from case studies, simulations and role plays. Audio and video tape recordings are used for the purpose of informed self-assessment and evaluation.

Course Description
What do I need to know and do to successfully accomplish the human side of my job? How do I work effectively with my co-workers? These questions often go unspoken by dental assisting students, yet feedback from the dentistry field indicates that effective interpersonal communication skills are essential to office functioning. Communications 1215, a highly interactive course, provides opportunities for students to develop the necessary skills to effectively function as a member of a dental team. Core components include foundational interpersonal theory, group dynamics and team work, verbal and nonverbal communication skills, phases of the helping relationship, and basic conflict management
Course Content
  1. Why study interpersonal communication?
    • increased self awareness
    • improved intra- and interpersonal skills
    • enhanced patient and collegial relationships
  2. What is interpersonal communication?
    • definitions of interpersonal communication
    • responsibilities of a communicator
    • confirming and disconfirming communication climates
  3. How do effective dental teams function?
    • characteristics of an effective team
    • group development theory
    • role functions in teams
  4. What theoretical and background information prepare us to study interpersonal communication?
    • principles
    • models of communication
    • the influence of self and perception on communication
  5. In what ways are helping and social relationships different from each other?
    • formal vs. informal
    • one vs. two directional
    • expectations
  6. How does awareness of helping relationships facilitate CDA-patient communication?
    • develops rapport
    • facilitates accurate exchange of information
    • encourages patient to identify needs and establish reasonable goals
  7. What core helping conditions facilitate CDA-patient relationships?
    • rapport
    • warmth
    • respect
    • empathy
  8. How do core helping conditions facilitate CDA-patient relationships?
    • improve interpersonal communication
    • reduce and/or contain patient anxiety
    • empower patient to address dental health concerns
  9. What micro skills promote effective interpersonal communication?
    • nonverbal communication
    • attending, observing and listening
    • reflective responding:
      • paraphrasing
      • clarifying
    • summarizing
    • questioning
    • feedback skills
  10. What are the effects of language on the communication process?
    • clinical terms and patient understanding
    • language and power
  11. What is performance anxiety and how can it be managed?
    • definition
    • causes
    • implications
    • strategies for managing 
      • psychological
      • behavioural
      • cognitive
  12. What are the elements of successful communication with elderly and non-adult patient populations?
    • developmental characteristics of young children, adolescents and the elderly
    • communication styles and developmental stages
    • effective communication approaches for working with different groups
  13. What particular considerations enhance interactions with emotionally challenging patient populations?
    • communication styles of individuals experiencing depression, anxiety, apathy, impatience and anger
    • effective communication approaches for working with emotionally challenging patients
Learning Outcomes

Overarching goal:

By the end of the course, successful students demonstrate increased abilities to use appropriate and effective interpersonal skills in dental workplace environments.

Knowledge: By the end of the course, successful students are able to:

  1. describe the influence of self-concept, perception and communication anxiety on interpersonal communication
  2. identify strengths and challenges in their own communication style and behaviour
  3. describe the nature and effects of a variety of verbal and nonverbal micro skills
  4. describe the differences between social and helping relationships
  5. discuss the phases of the helping relationship
  6. describe common roles and structures in teams
  7. identify characteristics of effective dental teams
  8. explain the nature, elements and effects of interpersonal conflict.

Skills: By the end of the course, successful students are able to:

  1. develop a personal strategy for managing communication and performance anxiety in ambiguous settings
  2. develop effective verbal and nonverbal communication skills for use in a variety of clinical and non-clinical settings
  3. work more effectively as a dental team member
  4. apply specific communication skills to patient groups such as children, the elderly, and anxious, angry, depressed, impatient and apathetic individuals.

Attitudes: By the end of the course, successful students gain appreciation for:

  1. the importance of communicating in a professional manner
  2. different communication approaches and needs of various patient populations
  3. the dynamic complexity of effective interpersonal communication
  4. their personal impact on interpersonal interactions.
Means of Assessment
Analysis and discussion of current interpersonal functioning 15%
Assessment and evaluation of improved interpersonal functioning 20%
Audio tape demonstration of Core Helping Behaviour 25%
Interpersonal skills demonstration project 30%
Professionalism, attendance and participation 10%
TOTAL 100%
Textbook Materials

Suggested texts:

  • Adler, R.B., Towne, N. and Rolls, J.A. Looking out, looking in, (1st Canadian ed.). Orlando, Florida: Harcourt, 2001.