Toolkit available for 'difficult conversations'


BENNINGTON >> The Center for Communication in Medicine (CCM) has announced the introduction of the Difficult Conversations Toolkit at Southwestern Vermont Regional Cancer Center (SVRCC). Through the support of the "Cancer Center Community Crusaders" – a group of dedicated community volunteers whose fundraising efforts are aimed at improving and expanding cancer care services – 100 copies of the Toolkit are available at no cost at the cancer center and palliative care program.

Building on 15 years experience developing programs to improve communication in healthcare, CCM created the Difficult Conversations Toolkit as a guide to help patients clarify and communicate questions, concerns and needs to healthcare providers — ensuring one's values, preferences and goals are understood and respected. The Toolkit is designed to prepare patients to actively engage in decisions about care and secure supports; help family express their needs and concerns; and provide healthcare professionals a platform for recognizing a patient's readiness to talk honestly about risks and benefits of treatment options and quality of life considerations—sooner rather than later.

"The Difficult Conversations Toolkit," explained Jan Martin Bopp, a myeloma patient treated at the cancer center, "is my chosen guiding instrument in advocating for my specific needs. Patients need to help doctors create a personalized plan of care." SVRCC radiation oncologist Dr. Matthew Vernon praised the Toolkit noting, "being open and communicative on the doctor's part definitely opens the door to patients feeling comfortable laying their concerns on the table."

The Center for Communication in Medicine is honored to be working with Southwestern Vermont Health Care in an effort to help improve communication in the face of serious illness. CCM is committed to introducing the Toolkit in medical practice and community education programs through its pioneering SpeakSooner Initiative. Learn more at


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