Motivational Interviewing for Addressing Vaccine Hesitancy with Joseph Weiner, MD, PhD

Dr. Joseph Weiner is an Associate Professor of Clinical Psychiatry, Medicine and Science Education at the Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell, where he co-directs the four-year curriculum in Physician-Patient Communication and Interpersonal Skills. Thinking and writing about how patients and clinicians communicate with each other has been a major interest in his career.

He teaches us today about something I’ve been wanting to learn about for a long time. The tagline of this show is “everything we should have been learning while we were memorizing Kreb’s cycle.” This doesn’t hold true for this episode because Dr. Weiner teaches motivational interviewing to medical students; it just wasn’t being taught when I was there. We go over the basics of motivational interviewing, its origins, the spirit of it, how to go about it and then we discuss how it can be used to have a productive conversation about the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine. I haven’t had training in it, but I’ve used it already and it WORKS! You can’t use it to get someone to do something they don’t already want to do, but it helps them clarify their thoughts and hesitations and, using BJ Fogg’s language, either get closer to or over the action line.

Dr. Weiner received his M.D. and his Ph.D. in Physiology and Biophysics from New York University. He did residency training in psychiatry at NYU/Bellevue and a fellowship in public psychiatry at Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons. In addition, he pursued advanced psychotherapy training at the American Institute of Psychoanalysis.

Dr. Weiner has received national and regional awards for his work as a clinician and educator. One he is particularly proud of was the 2015 Teacher of the Year Award from the Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell for the first 100 weeks of medical school. Dr. Weiner’s career interest in communication has expanded to the written medical narrative. He is writing a book about lessons learned from his late wife’s battle with cancer and is currently an MFA student in Creative Writing and Literature at Stony Brook Southampton.

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