University of Technology Sydney

92227 Communication for Healthcare Professionals

Warning: The information on this page is indicative. The subject outline for a particular session, location and mode of offering is the authoritative source of all information about the subject for that offering. Required texts, recommended texts and references in particular are likely to change. Students will be provided with a subject outline once they enrol in the subject.

Subject handbook information prior to 2024 is available in the Archives.

UTS: Health
Credit points: 6 cp
Result type: Grade and marks


This subject introduces students to the theories and processes of effective communication with patients and facilitates the development of interpersonal skills in the health care professional.

Particular focus is given to facilitating the development of essential interpersonal and helping skills that underpin the therapeutic relationship. In particular, the emphasis is on the skills necessary to conduct a patient interview. The interaction between a health care professional and patient is the heart of patient care and the source of information on which clinical decisions are based. The health care professional's manner and approach may determine the success or failure of the relationship which is crucial to treatment. Therefore the core skills to facilitate a more effective and sensitive approach to a patient interview are fundamental to the health professional's education.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

Upon successful completion of this subject students should be able to:
A. identify the helping process and provide an overview of effective interpersonal communication, interview and counselling skills, including motivational interviewing, and relationship building as well as barriers to effective patient/practitioner communication;
B. reflect on the importance of communication on professional relationships including professionalism, self presentation, communication with colleagues and conflict management;
C. incorporate effective communication skills into health care practice with an appreciation of ethical consideration, language and cultural differences;
D. examine the contribution of psychosocial theories of human development and the impact of health beliefs on an individuals ability to cope with illness
E. examine the nature of pain and the management of associated stress, anxiety and depression in chronic pain.

Contribution to the development of graduate attributes

Subject content is aligned with the Faculty of Science Graduate Attributes: disciplinary knowledge and its appropriate application; professional skills and their appropriate application; engagement with the needs of society and communication skills

Teaching and learning strategies

Strategies utilised emphasise active and applied approaches to develop students' ability to communicate positively with patients and their support systems, and professional colleagues. Students access lecture/theoretical content via online lectures accessed via UTSOnline. There is an expectation that students access the online lectures and complete the pre-class learning activities prior to attending tutorials. This enables students to fully participate and benefit from the experiential tutorial activities.

Students actively learn via role play; classroom exercises and worksheets; discussion of case studies; and individually as well as collaboratively during tutorial time. Students receive ongoing feedback on their progress in the subject from their peers and tutor during tutorial time. Students are provided with authentic work-integrated learning opportunities when they interact with real-life patients in the public clinic on site to complete their assessment for this subject. Students receive immediate feedback on their communication skills following their interview assessment, from the assessor and the patient whom they have interviewed.

One hundred per cent workshop attendance is expected.

Content (topics)

Communication skills and the helping process
Effective communication and relationship building skills; micro skills for effective interpersonal communication; the health professional interview; motivational interviewing. Barriers to effective communication.

Professional relationships
Professional attitudes, values and ethical considerations in the helping relationship; patient confidentiality; cultural competence. Professionalism and self presentation, communication with colleagues, conflict management. Understanding the language used in health care and communicating clinical reasoning.

The patient as a person
Overview of psychosocial theories of human development. Personality theory. Social learning theory. Emotional intelligence. Perceptions of illness and illness behaviour; health beliefs, values and attitudes. Cultural perspectives.

Therapeutic processes
Theories of behaviour change and motivating changes in behaviour. Anxiety, stress and crisis; mechanisms that promote healthy coping. Communicating with patients with chronic pain. Relapse and adherence to treatment.


Assessment task 1: Critical Incident reflection


The first assessment task will provide students with a scaffolded learning experience to prepare them for their major assessment in this subject and as a future health care practitioner.

There are 2 assessment items as assessment 1:

  • Assessment item A) - Health Professional Interview and Reflective Essay is to be completed by students enrolled in the subject as a Summer Session subject.
  • Assessment item B) - Critical Incident Reflection is to be completed by students enrolled in the subject in Autumn semester.
Weight: 50%

Assessment A) 1000 words
Assessment B) 750 words

Assessment task 2: Communication process exercise


Interviews with patients are the most frequently performed task of a health care practitioner. This assessment task provides students with the opportunity to conduct an interview with a real -life patient in the public TCM clinic attached to the university and receive feedback.

Weight: 50%

Patient interview and assessment of interpersonal skills – a 20 -30 minute interaction with a patient will be observed and assessed according to a checklist and patient feedback sheet.

Required texts

Silverman, J., Kurtz, S., & Draper, D. (2013). Skills for Communicating with Patients (3rd Ed) London: CRC Press Taylor & Francis Group.

Recommended texts

Thompson, N. (2015) People Skills (4th edition). Lonodn: Palgrave Macmillan.


Additional references will be provided on UTS online.

Other resources

UTS Student Centre
Building 10

Monday to Friday: 9am - 5pm
Tel: 1300 ASK UTS (1300 275 887)

Details for student centres:

For other resources/ information refer to the Faculty of Health website (, the Health Student Guide ( and UTSOnline at:

UTS Library
The Library has a wide range of resources, facilities and services to support you including textbooks, subject readings, health literature databases, workshops and bookable study rooms. There is also a team of librarians to help you with your questions available via online chat, phone and in person. W:, Facebook: utslibrary, Twitter: @utslibrary Tel: (02) 9514 3666.

Improve your academic and English language skills
Marks for all assessment tasks such as assignments and examinations are given not only for what you write but also for how you write. If you would like the opportunity to improve your academic and English language skills, make an appointment with the HELPS (Higher Education Language & Presentation Support) Service in Student Services.

HELPS (Higher Education Language & Presentation Support)
HELPS provides assistance with English language proficiency and academic language. Students who need to develop their written and/or spoken English should make use of the free services offered by HELPS, including academic language workshops, vacation intensive courses, drop-in consultations, individual appointments and Conversations@UTS ( HELPS staff are also available for drop-in consultations at the UTS Library. Phone (02) 9514 9733.

Please see for additional information on other resources provided to students by UTS.