Whether you’re a physician, RN, NP, PA, or any other healthcare practitioner who deals with patients, a good bedside manner is an important skill to have.
The ability to convey genuine concern and interest in a patient is an integral and inseparable part of the medical communications process. How a patient is dealt with can make or break important interactions, either encouraging an honest discussion or putting off the patient.
Developing a good bedside manner is more than looking professional or cracking a joke with patients. A positive health professional/patient relationship can result in a measurable difference in health outcomes. In fact, patients who feel more comfortable with the overseeing caregiver are much more likely to feel less stress or “white coat syndrome” and follow their recommended treatment plan.
But let’s face it, every medical practitioner’s personality is different, and dealing with patients on a daily basis – while rewarding – can also be stressful.
Here are 3 tips to help physicians, nurses, and other medical professionals improve the caregiver/patient relationship:
Smile and Introduce Yourself
Any healthcare practitioner dealing with a patient should take a minute to introduce themselves and explain their role in the care process. A good tip is to ask a couple of questions about the patient – where they live, what they do for work, etc. – to help break the ice. If the medical professional is only going to spend a little bit of time with the patient, they should explain who’ll be taking over, so they don’t feel abandoned. Throughout this process, it’s important to provide full attention to the patient – offering a few extra measures of comfort while providing reassurance that could improve their morale.
Listen, Don’t Rush
Many healthcare professionals already have a diagnosis in mind before they fully hear what their patients have to say. A patient knows how they feel, so listen for anomalies or inconsistencies, even if they aren’t totally right. The bottom line is, if the patient feels that the provider isn’t listening, they’re either going to get cranky or stop talking altogether. Neither is good!
If a provider truly listens, it helps build patient trust. People love when what’s important to them is being taken seriously, including having someone’s absolute attention. Especially in a patient/healthcare provider situation.
Sometimes people dance around their symptoms so that they can have a variety of things checked because they’re too embarrassed to talk about what actually concerns them. For a potentially better outcome, it’s important to listen to what they’re trying to say and then talk it through.
Use Layman’s Terms When Possible
Speaking in a manner that the patient can relate to goes a long way toward building a bond of understanding and trust. Avoiding excessive medical jargon can help diffuse a stressful situation and limit confusion – keeping the patient from becoming overly concerned for not understanding what’s being discussed. An excellent technique is to observe the patient’s reaction and offer to answer questions and explain the deeper implications of their situation.
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