Some medical professionals believe that their ranking and status are enough to pull in more patients and maintain retention rate. However, proper bedside manner embraces medical knowledge and the ability to understand patients’ health concerns. The more a healthcare provider knows each individual, the more efficient they may be at diagnosing the patient without complications. This will give the patient faith and confidence that they made the right decision to walk into your office, because it will reflect what they saw in your professional capabilities via research and recommendations. If a patient’s first impression is of a knowledgeable and friendly staff, it will reflect upon the practice as a whole, and especially the capabilities of the physicians themselves.
Help Them Heal
It is very important for someone who is very ill to have confidence and the mentality that they can, and will, get better, regardless of the circumstance. An issue on “health etiquette” by South University stated that, “being kind and empathetic goes a long way in gaining a patient’s confidence.” Many people who have been in the hands of caring physicians believe this to be true. Health care providers must understand that one’s dignity is at stake when they are giving a diagnoses or status on the patient’s condition, and it is up to the provider to leave that poise untarnished. When someone loses the will and spirit to survive, they may be giving their illness the advantage. Let’s take a cancer patient, for example; he or she is struggling physically, emotionally, and psychologically. Fatigue, nausea, and a broken spirit usually follows rounds of chemotherapy and visits to the doctor. It takes not only the support of family members and friends to help the patient fight this unrelenting battle, but the support of their professional caretaker.
Keep Them Coming Back
New mothers can be very picky and cautious in choosing a pediatrician for their child. One personal testimony from a mother of a two year old told her story about a nurse practitioner that chased her away to a completely different practice. “She was rude and inconsiderate when it came to my child’s needs. The nurse told me my child was overweight based solely off of what she read on the scale, without considering that my daughter was also above average height. I never went back,” says the concerned mother. According to this parent, the nurse practitioner was uninterested in the real problem, which was that her daughter actually wasn’t eating enough. Despite the parent trying to express her concerns, she was belittled and cut-off repeatedly. This brings us to another factor: health care providers should be aware of the entire staff’s ability to maintain proper etiquette, because physician’s assistants and nurses are usually who the patient encounters first.
It’s Not too Late to Learn Proper Bedside Manner
In 2009, a study published in an issue of Academic Medicine proved that learning is possible, and the effort to enhance compassion towards patients does matter. Groups of reputable physician-teachers from five academic medical facilities attended meetings twice a month. They were taught skills that were meant to improve empathy and compassion, as well as, reflecting upon their personal work via group discussions and personal diary entries. In order to see if there were any subjective developments – over the course of 18 months – medical students and residents evaluated the physician-teachers along with the “control group” that did not partake in the meetings. They were assessed “…on such matters as listening carefully and connecting with others, teaching communication and relationship-building skills, and inspiring the adoption of caring attitudes toward patients.”
“At all five sites, those physician-teachers who participated in the program consistently outscored the controls,” – The New York Times
Physicians live in a fast-paced world that sometimes limits their capability to get to know their patients. However, the rest of the general population lives in that same world, yet they still make the conscious choice to walk into your office. They are not just “customers” – they are people, they are your neighbors, and they want physicians to take their health as seriously as they take their own. Meaningful handshakes, genuine smiles, and proper listening could be the difference between these same people making the conscious choice to walk into your office for the second time.
Britt, Darice. “Healthcare Professionalism: How Important Is Proper Bedside Manner?” Health. South University, Apr. 2013. Web. 21 Aug. 2013. <http://source.southuniversity.edu/healthcare-professionalism-how-important-is-proper-bedside-manner-132067.aspx>.
Chen, Pauline W., M.D. “The Hidden Curriculum of Medical School.” Health. The New York Times, 29 Jan. 2009. Web. 21 Aug. 2013. <http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/30/health/29chen.html>.
Parker-Pope, Tara. “Can Better Bedside Manner Be Taught?” Health. The New York Times, 29 Jan. 2009. Web. 21 Aug. 2013. <http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/01/29/can-better-bedside-manner-be-taught/?_r=0>.