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The Development and Purpose of the FIT Program
In 1988, the American Academy on Communication in Healthcare (AACH) created the Facilitator In Training (FIT) program to develop highly skilled facilitators to teach relationship-centered communication skills and personal awareness in small groups at national courses (currently known as ENRICH) and smaller regional faculty development courses.  Core competencies included clinical interviewing skills, small-group facilitation, interpersonal skills, self-directed learning, and personal awareness.  Nearly 100 people with varied backgrounds have completed this multi-year, learner-centered, distance-learning fellowship.

The program has been very effective at helping learners achieve a variety of self-identified goals, and for many it has been transformative and the most useful educational experience of their lives.  A qualitative analysis found consistent increases in confidence and skill with communication, teaching, facilitation, relationships at work and home, and personal awareness (Chou et al, 2014). 

Additional benefits from this longitudinal learning community have included:
  • Highly meaningful, trusting and supportive relationships with other professionals with shared values
  • Significant career development and advancement due to monthly mentoring
  • Opportunities for networking, career advice, and collaboration on scholarly projects
  • A safe place to share important professional and personal dilemmas and to work on managing them
The success of the program can be attributed to the basic principles of learning communities: 
  • Caring relationships
  • Unconditional positive regard
  • Trust
  • Inclusivity
  • Mutual support
  • Teamwork
Prerequisites
  • Successful completion of the AACH Relationship-Centered Communication Facilitators Program (RCF) (or equivalent as an AACH Train-the-Trainer graduate)
  • Attendance at an AACH ENRICH Course.
  • Frequently Asked Questions

    Program Content
    The FIT Program was redesigned after the introduction of the Relationship-centered Communication Facilitation (RCF) program in 2016, to require 16 EPAs, divided into 4 core domains:  


                  
    Required AACH Activities

    Upon acceptance into the FIT program, FITs are required to participate in AACH's annual Winter Course, ENRICH course, and serve on an AACH committee, which provide in-person opportunities to attain the FIT program EPAs:  

    WINTER COURSE

    The Winter Course is a 5-day immersive learning experience (typically held in early February) for current FITs, RCFs, and Faculty, which focuses on:

    • Personal Awareness (Domain #3)- FITs are placed in small groups (usually < 10 people) led by facilitation professionals, each with unique styles and approaches to personal awareness.  Styles may include Matrix Leadership, Diversity, Rogerian, Family of Origin, Anima Learning, etc.  The purpose of personal awareness groups is to: provide a learner-centered environment where participants can set personal learning goals related to interpersonal & communication skills, personal awareness and development, and reflection. Additionally, participants have the opportunity to practice challenging communication scenarios and receive feedback and coaching.
    • FIT Skills- In a series of skills sessions, FITs learn, practice, and receive feedback on essential communication skills.  Past skills sessions have focused on group facilitation challenges, giving/receiving feedback, diversity, and role play.  

    • ​Workshop Content & Development (Domain #2)- FITs have an opportunity to work alongside AACH faculty in the development and delivery of a single workshop session to their FIT and faculty peers.  This provides a venue to "test run" a potential workshop in a safe environment and receive constructive feedback, to share about an emerging topic of interest, and can also serve as a venue for attaining EPAs in the workshop domain of the FIT program.  Samples of recent Winter Course workshops include: Mentoring for the 21st Century: Developing skills in mentoring across differences, Measurement in the Service of Compassion: RCC, Healthcare Disparities and Data, Exploring Cognitive Biases through Poetry and Visual Art, Making Role-Play Exercises Fun and Effective: Advanced Role-Play Techniques Addressing Communication Skills Training Challenges, etc.

    • Facilitated Large Group Sessions- FITs attend large group sessions led by the same professional facilitators of the small personal awareness groups. Large group sessions provide the opportunity to learn more about timely themes within healthcare communication in a group activity-based format rather than a keynote didactic format.  Themes vary from year to year, but recent courses have focused on: diversity, vulnerability and imperfection, personal and organizational change, etc.

    ENRICH COURSE
    The ENRICH course is a 4-day intensive and interactive course (typically held in early-mid June) open to any healthcare professionals interested in communication and relationship-centered care.  FITs, like AACH Faculty, have specific roles and responsibilities at this course, including the development and delivery of interactive workshop tracks, co-facilitation of small learning groups, and attending debrief meetings.

    • Facilitation (Domain #1)- FITs are required to co-facilitate a small learning group with an AACH faculty member at ENRICH.  Using skills learned at Winter Course, FITs will act in a co-facilitator role, rather than as a participant.  To graduate from the FIT program, FITs must co-facilitate at least one "Integrated" group, plus one other modality (i.e. Narrative, Case-based, Intact Team, Leadership, Family-of-Origin, Improvisation, etc.)  The daily FIT and faculty meetings, as well as the course debrief meeting provide opportunities for practicing and refining debrief skills, which are part of the facilitation domain.

    • Workshop Content and Development (Domain #2)-  FITs are required to help plan and deliver at least 2 different workshops during their time in the FIT program.  ENRICH offers another opportunity to complete this requirement.  However, unlike Winter Course, the workshops at ENRICH are formatted as tracks, with each session building on the last.  Typically ENRICH workshop teams have several FITs and faculty per team, which provides an opportunity for learning more about the other essential components of the FIT program: leadership, teamwork, conflict engagement, and diversity.

    SERVICE ON AN AACH COMMITTEE
    FITs are required to serve on at least one AACH committee during their time in the program.  This engages the FITs at the organizational level of AACH, provides opportunities to work with and get to know fellow AACH members and leaders, provides a FIT voice/perspective on AACH programs and activities, and develops skills such as leadership, teamwork, conflict engagement, and handling diversity.  Appropriate committees may include: ENRICH Planning Committee, Winter Course Planning Committee, FIT Committee, RCF Committee, Education Committee, Diversity Committee, Membership Committee, etc. 

    Click here to learn more about the application process, including program cost, time commitment, etc.

    Faculty Mentors/Guides
    Each FIT is paired with an AACH faculty member who will act as a mentor to facilitate progress and growth during training. FITs and Guides meet regularly to discuss learning issues and to negotiate many aspects of training relative to creating and implementing a learning plan. If accepted into the FIT program, you will be provided with a list of available Guides compiled by the FIT Committee. The FIT Co-Directors will assist you in identifying a subset of potential Guides given your individual background, interests, and needs, and will then broker either in-person or phone meetings with these individuals so that the mutual FIT-Guide selection process can begin. More detailed information can be found in Choosing a Guide: A Primer.

    Contact Us
    Julie Crosson, MD
    FIT Program Co-Director
    Boston University/Dorchester House
    Boston, MA
    julie.crosson@gmail.com
    Carol Chou, MD
    FIT Program Co-Director
    University of Pennsylvania
    Philadelphia, PA
    fsamaha@comcast.net 
    Lindsay Overall
    Program Manager
    AACH
    Lexington, Kentucky
    loverall@amrms.com
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