“Dos and Don’ts” While Interacting with Patients
For those in the healthcare industry, interacting with patients is likely a key part of what you do every day. Though some like nurses and general practitioners see more of the patient than surgeons or anesthesiologists, anyone involved with healthcare needs to have the interpersonal skills to relate to their patients. After all, the whole purpose of healthcare is to administer to the sick and injured, and the relational aspect is no small piece of that. Here are some things to do, and not to do, every time you meet with a patient.
Things to Do
- Encourage the patient to speak – This will help them feel valued and involved. A patient isn’t merely a broken machine to be set right, but a human being requiring care.
- Listen carefully – Listening when a patient talks shows that you genuinely are interested in what they are saying, and you might actually learn something important for their treatment.
- Answer the question the patient asks – Don’t immediately disregard uninformed questions, but answer as best you can and then explain how you see things. This will make it feel more like a conversation and less like a lecture.
Things Not to Do
- Use jargon – In all likelihood, your patient probably didn’t go to medical school, so drop terminology which would be meaningless to them. An oversimplified understanding is better than not understanding at all for a patient.
- Steamroll a conversation – Don’t just show up, lecture the patient, and leave before they had time to process anything you said. This is a great way to ensure that your patient will leave confused and dissatisfied with you as their caregiver.
- Include unnecessary information – Another way to cause confusion is to explain too much or answer questions they didn’t ask. Be as clear and concise as possible. Otherwise your patient might forget key things you said in the stream of over-information.
- Make assumptions about the patient – When a patient begins telling you something about their feelings or symptoms, don’t cut them off before they finish because you think you know what is wrong. This is a great way to alienate your patient and you might even jump to the wrong conclusion.
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