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The Conversation Lab™ is an educational and system-based initiative created to improve serious illness care and is made possible with generous support given to the UHN Foundation.

Our Vision

A health care system where every clinician is trained and empowered to skillfully discuss what matters most with their seriously ill patients and families.

Our Mission

Most health care providers in practice tell us they received very little training on how to communicate with their patients and families facing serious and life-threatening illness. The Conversation Lab™ exists to eliminate this education gap, improve care delivery, and lead research to enhance serious illness care.

We are building Canada’s largest group of clinical teachers to use the internationally proven VitalTalk™ teaching method to teach health care providers how to expertly discuss what matters most with their seriously ill patients and families. In parallel, we are providing patients and families with resources to help them take control of their care. We are leveraging decades of clinical and teaching experience as well as technology to deliver better care at UHN and beyond.

We’re glad you are here.

FAQ

We provide free practical tools that every clinician can have as part of their communications toolkit. We offer virtual and in-person communication skills training to help clinicians maximize their success to support seriously ill patients and their families. We also teach patients, caregivers and clinicians how to document wishes and important conversations in the electronic medical record.

The Serious Illness Care Program, developed at Ariadne Labs, is an evidence-based intervention designed to improve serious illness care. We adapted their conversation guides for local use and are using their system-based approach to think about how we provide care at UHN.

VitalTalk is a not-for-profit organization that teaches health care providers communication and teaching skills enabling high-quality serious illness conversations. We adapted their conversation guides for local use and all of our workshop facilitators and communication coaches completed their faculty development training in order to standardize and strengthen our teaching.

The Conversation Lab, developed at UHN, is a multipronged education, research and system-based initiative to improve serious illness care. We adapted evidence-based tools from the above-mentioned programs and use VitalTalk’s teaching method to standardize how we teach health care providers how to use our adapted tools to more confidently deliver serious illness care. We believe having a common language and approach to doing this important work unites our health care system and will lead to better care.

While The Conversation Lab is aimed at educating health care providers and conducting research to improve serious illness care, we developed a guide for patients and families to think about how to plan for their future care. This guide is available on our ‘Patient/family Resources’ page. It is for education purposes only. We encourage you to review it with someone you trust as well as your health care providers. If you are a patient at UHN you can share relevant information electronically through your patient chart. Learn more by clicking here.

Our learning modules are currently available to Temerty Faculty of Medicine students at the University of Toronto and postgraduate students and staff at UHN. You will need to register with our program using your University of Toronto or UHN email address to access our learning modules.

Thank you for your interest in training with us! All our workshops are currently full. We will post upcoming workshops on our website as they become available. Click here to be added to our workshop waitlist

Step 1: complete our program’s online learning modules.
Step 2: attend our half-day workshop.
Step 3: email us to request a ‘TWH communication skills coaching session’.

We are very grateful to have generous UHN Foundation support enabling us to create and deliver our programming, and to study our impact and continue to develop innovative ways to deliver best-in-class care.

We are clinical teachers and educators affiliated with the Temerty Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto and frontline health care workers and patient partners at UHN.

The lab’s Founding Director is Dr. Warren Lewin.

We have faculty from the following specialties at UHN: neurosurgery, family medicine, palliative medicine, radiation oncology, medical oncology, critical care medicine, geriatric medicine, and internal medicine. We are all licensed VitalTalk Faculty using an evidence-based deliberate practice teaching method to cultivate skill.

E-mail us at theconversationlab@uhn.ca. We look forward to connecting with you.