Suzanne M. Kurtz, PhD was Professor of Communication, joint appointed in the Faculties of Education and Medicine, University of Calgary from 1976 through 2005. Effective January, 2006, she joined the faculty of Washington State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, where she is Clinical Professor and Director of Clinical Communication. Focusing her career on improving communication practices in health care and education and on developing curricula and methods for teaching and learning communication skills, she has worked with a variety of groups: medical and education students, residents, practicing physicians, nurses, allied health professionals, patient groups, veterinarians and students of veterinary medicine, teachers, and administrators in health and education.
For 27 years she directed the undergraduate communication curriculum in Calgary’s Faculty of Medicine and has consulted nationally and internationally at all levels of medical education regarding the specifics of setting up effective communication programs for medical students, residents, faculty and staff. In 1998 she began working with colleagues in the Ontario Veterinary College to pioneer communication programs for veterinary medicine. Currently she is directing development of Washington State University’s communication program for veterinarians and veterinary students. She has served as advisor to the Bayer Institute for Health Care Communication, Cancer Care Ontario’s Communication Task Force, and Health Canada’s Canadian Breast Cancer Initiative. She was appointed to the task force that initially developed Calgary’s innovative inquiry-based Master of Teaching program.
Currently she is a consulting member of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada’s national CanMEDS Phase IV Communicator Working Group, the Medical Council of Canada’s Executive Committee for the National Strategy for Physician Communication Skills Assessment and Enhancement, and Pfizer Animal Health’s ‘Frank’ communication project. Working across diverse cultural and disciplinary lines, she has collaborated on communication program development, team building, and conflict management in education, law and business, and has served on several international development projects related to health and education in Nepal, Southeast Asia and South Africa.
Along with numerous articles, her publications include two companion books co-authored with JD Silverman and J Draper entitled Teaching and Learning Communication Skills in Medicine and Skills for Communicating with Patients (Radcliffe Publishing, Oxford, England and San Francisco – originally published in 1998, the revised 2nd editions of both books were published in 2005). An earlier book co-authored with VM Riccardi was entitled Communication and Counseling in Health Care (1983, Charles C. Thomas, Springfield, Illinois). Her interest in communication in medicine began in 1974 when she did her doctoral thesis research on the relationship between the nonverbal communication of physicians and patient satisfaction. Dr. Kurtz has also published in the areas of participatory education and participatory development. She collaborated with A. Chuchat, MP Carunungan, KJ Foreman, and BJ Spronk on a volume entitled Participatory Education in Cross-Cultural Settings that reflects on a five-year development project based in the Philippines, Thailand, and Canada (1997, for the Dialogues on Development Series, published by the Division of International Development, University of Calgary, Alberta).