02 SES 08 A, Transitions: Individual and Systemic Perspectives on VET
In this paper we will present results from CoSMed, a project that is concerned with highlighting and measuring occupation-specific competences of Medical Assistants. We will focus on communication strategies being one of the major components of social competences in this occupation.
In CoSMed, two German institutes, the Georg-August-University of Göttingen (Chair of Business Education and Human Resource Development) and the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB), collaborate by analyzing different competence dimensions. The BIBB’s research-emphasis is on the Medical Assistants’ social competences, the importance of which tends to be widely underestimated (Dietzen, Monnier & Tschöpe, 2012). Medical Assistants must quickly appraise a sick person’s situation and emotional state, calm down agitated patients, stabilize them in difficult situations, and carry out certain procedures that patients find unpleasant. At the same time, the occupation calls for good coordination within the practice team composed of different hierarchical levels. These examples make it clear that besides the expected skills in healthcare and business, social competences form a fundamental component of the professional profile of Medical Assistants.
Germany’s training regulation for Medical Assistants (Bundesgesetzblatt, 2006) enumerates various tasks in patient care and consultation, which especially underscore the importance of communication skills. According to the broad educational vision that underpins the vocational education and training (VET) concept, personal and social competences such as communication skills need to be taught, supported and, where possible, assessed (KMK, 2007). However, the visibility and recognition of these competences still seem secondary in dual apprenticeship. One explanation may be that these are often seen as personal qualities that people “just need to arrive with”. Alternatively it is hypothesized that they are acquired through primary socialization processes and continuously developed in working life, mainly through informal and experience-led learning in the process of carrying out the occupational role. Another factor is that in the past, nursing, care and dealing with people needing help was generally a sector to which society paid little attention, and hence the requisite skills were not adequately perceived, much less professionalized (Dietzen, Monnier & Tschöpe, 2012).
In our model of social competences for medical assistants, communication strategies are considered as one of the “output”-competences besides the more cognitive emotion regulation or perspective coordination (Srbeny, Monnier, Dietzen & Tschöpe, in press). Given that, there should be a way to test it in an occupation-specific assessment. However, there are no text based and valid measurements for the use of communication strategies available yet. On the contrary, these competences are assessed by the use of role plays that allow estimating general competence levels without further differentiation (e.g. Lane & Rollnick, 2007). On the other hand, written texts are mostly analyzed by their understandability, not in the perspective of social competent contents. This is done by counting words or sentences, looking at the lengths of the entire text or finding underlying structures. This linguistic point of view as “clear speech” is important for Medical Assistants as well (e.g. while explaining a treatment to a patient) but it is differentiated from communication strategies in CoSMed. Additionally to these constraints, Langer, Schulz von Thun and Tausch (1999) say that a statement can easily be rated as good or not so good without any kind of criteria given to the raters. Summing up, the research questions in this paper are: 1. how social competent communication strategies can be defined, 2. if they can be measured in a computerized text based instrument and 3. if there can be any valid, reliable and objective criteria to do that.
Bundesgesetzblatt (2006). Verordnung über die Berufsausbildung zum Medizinischen Fachangestellten / zur Medizinischen Fachangestellten. Bundesgesetzblatt Jahrgang 2006 Teil I Nr. 22. Bonn. Dietzen, A., Monnier, M., Srbeny, C. & Tschöpe, T. (in press). Modellierung und Messung sozial-kommunikativer Kompetenzen von Medizinischen Fachangestellten. In: Bildungsstandards und Kompetenzorientierung - Herausforderung und Perspektiven der Bildungs- und Berufsbildungsforschung. Bonn: BIBB. Dietzen, A., Monnier, M. & Tschöpe, T. (2012). Soziale Kompetenzen von medizinischen Fachangestellten messen - Entwicklung eines Verfahrens im Projekt CoSMed. BWP, 6, 24-28. Kultusministerkonferenz (KMK) (2007). Handreichung für die Erarbeitung von Rahmenlehrplänen der Kultusministerkonferenz für den berufsbezogenen Unterricht in der Berufsschule und ihre Abstimmung mit den Ausbildungsordnungen des Bundes für anerkannte Ausbildungsberufe. Berlin. Lane, C. & Rollnick, S. (2007). The use of simulated patients and role-play in communication skills training: A review of the literature to August 2005. In: Patient Education and Counseling, 67 (1-2), 13-20. Langer, I., Schulz von Thun, F. & Tausch, R. (1999). Sich verständlich ausdrücken. München: Ernst Reinhardt. Pearlman, K. & Sanchez, J.I. (2010). Work Analysis. In J.L. Farr & N.T. Tippins (Eds.), Handbook of Employee Selection (pp. 73-98). New York: Routledge. Ployhart R.E. & MacKenzie W.I. Jr. (2011). Situational Judgment Tests: A Critical Review and Agenda for the Future. In S. Zedeck (Ed.), APA Handbook of Industrial and Organizational Psychology, Vol 2: Selecting and developing members for the organization (pp.237-252). Washington DC: American Psychological Association. Rosenberg, M. B. (2012). Gewaltfreie Kommunikation: Eine Sprache des Lebens. Paderborn. Schulz von Thun, F. (2004). Miteinander reden: Kommunikationspsychologie für Führungskräfte. Hamburg.
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