January 7, 2015
Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.
There are very few specialties in healthcare that allow you to work in total isolation and most of these include behind the scenes work that do not involve direct patient care. Most direct patient care roles require you to interact with patients in addition to working together with other medical professionals to provide the patient with the best care possible. This means, outstanding communication skills are absolutely necessary for anyone interested in pursuing a career in medicine.
Here are a few top tips for effective communication in healthcare:
Patients tend to trust medical professionals who talk to them using words they understand and are comfortable with. Using complex medical language with patients will not help build confidence or trust and neither will it impress them. Keeping it simple, using non-medical terminology will do much more to help build trust with your patients, which is a critical element in the doctor-patient relationship.
As a healthcare provider, it is important to personalise your approach to individual patients and varying circumstances. While some patients may want to be more involved in their treatment and may prefer regular updates on their treatment plan and progress, others may not feel as comfortable with regular detailed updates. Adjusting the way you communicate with your patients will help them feel more at ease and less scared and anxious.
Listening to your patients and empathising with them is of paramount importance. This involves giving them your hundred percent attention and acknowledging the emotional cues in their story without being judgmental. Knowing that you will provide nonjudgmental advice and support encourages patients to express their fears and concerns and eases their anxiety, making them more receptive to treatment.
Establishing a dialogue with your patients will help you determine whether or not your patient agrees with the diagnosis and treatment plan. Most patients who do not agree with the diagnosis tend to cease following the treatment plan sooner or later. Instead of giving patients detailed information about drug treatments, which is not something they want to hear, provide more details on what you are going to do to ease their pain and suffering. The will do much more to alleviate their distress and anxiety and improve their prognosis.
Communication does not only involve the words that you say. Your actions while saying the words are just as important. Reading your notes or scanning your emails while half-listening to what your patient is saying conveys a subtle, unintentional message that you are only half-interested in what they are saying. Maintaining eye contact with your patients and giving them your 100% attention is the single most important thing you can do to establish trust and confidence.
Efficient communication is essential when handing over or taking over patient care. Failure to communicate properly can result in muddled diagnoses and failed treatments. All of the rules that apply to effective communication with patients are also relevant with it comes to communicating with colleagues and other medical professionals.