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How would you rate yourself in communicating with patients-- and with families?

#career-details #medicine #doctor

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David’s Answer

An additional point to consider when communicating with patients and families is what is their level of medical understanding or "medical literacy". The average american communicates/ understands at an 8th grade level, medically 5th grade level. This is not a knock on society, it is just fact. So I often use "medical-ese" then I translate it into simpler English when explaining disease etc.
I have patients teach back concepts and directions when I am explaining rather than stating, " Do you understand?" It is a rare adult or child who will state I dont understand. This is especially true of non-English speakers. I use translators all the time when speaking to folks for whom English is not their primary language.
Many healthcare professionals forget why they are in the exam room...it is to help that patient!. The next ones will have to wait. For thirty years I was told I couldn't do this. I always did and just scheduled the patients enough time to get their wants and needs addressed. Hence, I ran on time and my patients did not have to wait. SO take your time, be patient and answer the patient's questions. Including waiting for them to generate questions.
Dr B
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Micaela’s Answer

Jessica, this is a great question and timely given the Covid situation right now. I have spent the majority of my career as an Executive working in adult psychiatric care. No, I am not a physician but a boss who works with the physicians to come up with the best courses of action given challenging issues. It is imperative to be direct to patients and their families. As a medical professional remember they are seeking your advice and no one wants anything to linger longer than it has too. Transparency is always the best. Honest communication is key in the medical profession whether it's coming from an executive, doctor, nurse, technician, etc. I firmly believe we owe the patients the truth no matter what the situation. However that being said, over the years I have learned words that you use are important, and there is no reason to dive deep into medical terminology. It does not help the patients or their families and many times it makes them mad. How you develop communication skills are developed by evaluating your personality and with multiple years of professional experience. There is no quick learning to master this. Nevertheless, we need more transparency in healthcare at all levels and people with integrity to make it happen.
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Richard’s Answer

Early in my career I was too worried about learning the science of medicine to fully understand the point of view of the patients. However, after my son had health issues, I finally began to work on empathy. I now approach every patient interaction by thinking about how I would like to be treated. If the patient has had to wait I always apologize. Lately I have been thanking them for braving COVID just to come in for their appointments. I hope that I am making better connections with patients and this can lead to a more open line of communication.
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