Something many patients have in common as they sit waiting for their doctor or healthcare professional to enter the room is that they do not want to be there. Whether anxious because of unexplained symptoms or apprehensive about the information they will need to share, patients are put at ease when the confidence of experience and knowledge is evident in their care provider. Having a professional bedside manner is paramount in getting your patient to relax and share pertinent details necessary to get the full picture of the problems they are there for.
A Calm Demeanor
Even when the concerns are indeed cause for a concern, a calm demeanor assures the patient that they aren’t the first, nor the last, to experience the problems they are facing. A significant part of exuding professionalism is being a reassuring presence. Relating the positive outcomes you have witnessed in your practice will do more for your patient than overall statistics. A relaxed expression as the patient details the concerns they have will help them to open up even more and give you a better chance to make the best decisions about their care.
As a healthcare provider you may have seen it all, but your patient hasn’t. Being aware of body language as he or she shares personal details will give you the opportunity to nod your head knowingly or lightly touch their arm to assure them that this information does not shock or disturb you. This is vitally important in matters where certain details are distressing or embarrassing to vocalize. Even the most open-minded patients sometimes have difficulty expressing thoughts when it comes to taboo subjects, so it’s important to maintain a non-judgmental posture when receiving a patient’s most personal information.
It’s important to show patients that the hospital or clinic they receive their treatment at is operated by competent, professional healthcare workers. Everyone from the administrating staff to the cafeteria workers in a hospital or clinic should dress and act respectfully. Whether it’s in plain scrubs or custom aprons, which can be found at https://www.skguniforms.com.au/uniforms/hospitality-uniforms/custom-aprons, every member of the staff should be in uniform when interacting with patients.
While the provider and patient relationship must maintain professional boundaries, don’t be afraid to relate to your patient. Share a bit of your life with them so they see you as a real person that takes their concerns seriously and genuinely cares about a positive outcome. Let them know thorough your body language that you are not in a hurry to get to the next patient. Do not minimize concerns they share even if you feel they aren’t a significant part of the problem they are there for. Acknowledge all information with a positive message that you have heard and understood what they are saying. Talk to your patient as if they are an equal partner in their health and not merely a customer who must obey orders. While you can’t be friends with all your patients, you can be friendly.
Be the Expert, But Gently
In a world largely technology driven, it’s common to meet a patient for the first time and have to undo hours of self-diagnosis. While this can be frustrating, take time to commend your patient for being diligent about their health. As quickly as possible, let them know that while the internet is a wonderful place to get information it’s not always the best place to make a health determination based on symptoms alone.
Establishing a healthy and trusting relationship with your patients will make your professional life less stressful and make treating your patients less frustrating as they will be more willing to honestly engage in discussion about why they there to see you. It’s a win/win situation all around.
About the Author: Marlena Stoddard is a freelance writer who received her BA from University of Georgia.
These aspects are critical for all healthcare professionals. Please review our certifications for nurses and also our Nurse Patient Educator Certification Program