Gondolas and Gondoliers

A model for therapeutic patient education

Diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, bronchial asthma, depression, epilepsy, orthopedic complications, infections… just to mention only a few of the many diseases and conditions listed by the World Health Organisation where therapeutic education of patients allows an efficient control of these illnesses.

In order to teach the patient to better manage his treatment, the healthcare provider has to master the necessary pedagogic skills, as well as have an open attitude towards the patient so as to encourage him in his efforts.

Teaching skills are often difficult to transmit. By observing a privileged "teaching moment", that of a young gondolier in training, it gives us a better idea of what therapeutic education of patients could be. The gondolier's craft is one which is passed down from father to son. A gondola is an unstable boat with a flat bottom; as such it can slip down narrow canals and be steered with precision under the arches of the bridges. Learning how to steer a gondola requires a long and delicate (fastidious?) training; the same rule applies to a patient who has to learn to treat himself.

This short 6-minute film is shown in two versions: one without teaching instructions and the other gives certain key words which characterise the teaching manner of the master gondolier.

We suggest viewing the film in three stages:

1.  Look at the first film and discover the different teaching approaches used by the gondolier.

2. Then look at the second version of the film showing the key words.

3. Return to the practical aspect of therapeutic patient education and discuss with your colleagues if the training of your patients has links with the teaching manner of this gondolier.

A good teacher could well be a gondolier who is unaware of it… Bon voyage - in a gondola!

These movies take about 60 seconds to start depending on your connection:

watch movie 1  (30 MB)     watch movie 2 (with keywords)  (30 MB)

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Prof Jean-Philippe Assal
Translation: Mr. Guido Ruffino
© Foundation for Research and Training in Patient Education
52 Boulevard de St-Georges - 1205 GENEVA, Switzerland
education > teaching the educator