An ethics conference planned for March 8 is designed to help healthcare professionals learn to communicate more effectively with each other as well as with patients and family members during difficult times.

“Healthcare and the Art of Difficult Discussions,” hosted by Floyd Medical Center, will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Georgia Northwestern Technical College Conference Center.

Physicians, nurses, counselors, therapists, chaplains, social workers and others can receive continuing education credits by completing the course.

Many professionals struggle when trying to communicate effectively with individuals and families who are dealing with such issues as illness or injury, living life more fully or facing death.

The guest speaker will be Kathleen Benton, a leader in palliative care, ethicist and international author and speaker. Benton has worked in the area of ethics for more than 12 years. She earned her doctorate in public health leadership from Georgia Southern University, her Masters in Bioethics from Case Western Reserve University and her undergraduate degree in Political Science and Communications from Furman University.

“While many of these conversations are focused on patients and families, much of the dilemma is that we professionals don’t know how to talk with each other very well,” said Jack Foley, Chaplain at Floyd and the conference coordinator. “Kathleen talks about it in terms of us each working in our own silos.

“I heard Kathleen speak at a conference in Stone Mountain last year, and she was by far the best speaker over the course of the two-day conference,” Foley added. “I sought her out, and thankfully, she was agreeable to coming as our keynote speaker this year.”

This conference will help raise awareness of ethical dilemmas, address barriers, provide resources and teach practical communication skills for having difficult discussions. Using case studies, lecture and panel discussion, participants will be invited to consider what might be the best way to communicate in a variety of scenarios.

The cost ranges from $125 for health care providers, $75 for other professionals and $25 for students. To register, go to www.floyd.org/ethics. For information, contact Foley at 706.509.5199.