5 Ways for Nurses and Doctors to Improve Communication Skills with Patients

Every day, nurses and doctors focus on the vital tasks of accurately diagnosing symptoms and prescribing treatment for a patient. When you have a large caseload, it can be easy to overlook the way you interact with your patients. Taking the time to consider each individual’s state of mind and communication style is time and energy that you may feel you do not have. 

It is just as crucial to cultivate a pleasant bedside manner as it is to prescribe the proper course of treatment. Every case is different, but each individual you see benefits from positive interaction with their attending medical staff. Fortunately, there are some easy changes you can implement immediately to start improving your patient’s clinical experience.

First Impressions Are Important

One of the simplest changes you can make is to take time with your physical appearance. Wearing bright-colored or patterned scrubs creates a positive first impression as soon as you walk into the room. Most people are inherently uncomfortable in a medical setting. Typically, the décor is stark and the lights are bright. While beneficial for taking care of patients, it is not an atmosphere to inspires tranquility.

When the nurse or doctor enters wearing scrubs that have some visual interest and brightness, it helps to set a more relaxed tone. It is always easier to deal with the care and health of your patients when they are as calm and comfortable as possible.

There are so many styles available for scrubs these days. There will undoubtedly be numerous options to choose from that flatter your coloring and body type, from jogger-style scrub pants to zip-up mock-neck scrub tops.   

Of course, you need to appear competent and professional, but wearing fashionable scrubs does not undermine your authority as a health professional. In fact, letting some of your personality show via your clothing choice can quickly endear you to your patients.

Be Conscious of How You Speak

You spent many years learning your profession and working long, hard hours every day. Using medical terminology and slang is second nature to you. It is necessary to consider that it is highly unlikely that your patients will have a medical background. Since they won’t be familiar with technical terms or abbreviations, it is crucial to explain things precisely and succinctly to your patients. 

You want them to understand everything you discuss and to be comfortable asking questions for clarification if need be. To keep them open and at ease, it is vital to not talk down to them. It can be challenging to remember to take the time to simplify your explanations, but the health of your patients is the point of everything you do. Making sure they understand things without feeling unintelligent goes a long way toward creating positive rapport with your patients.

Encourage Interactive Dialogue

No matter your role in the medical field, your ability to communicate effectively with your patients is a skill you must ultimately master for success. Communication is not merely about lecturing. You’ll need to have conversations with back-and-forth dialogue between you and your patient. The way you convey information will affect how your patients respond to you. Keeping your tone light and friendly ensures their comfort in having open and meaningful discussions with you about symptoms and medical history.

While you must impart information to your patients, it is equally important that they feel secure enough in your presence to ask questions when necessary. Treating your patient like an equal, and speaking to them honestly, lays the groundwork for an open and productive conversation. Patients who feel heard are more likely to follow prescribed treatments and listen to their doctor’s advice.

Observe Those Around You

Patients won’t always be open and upfront with their doctor or nurse. Body language is a huge help when interacting with non-cooperative people. As a medical professional, you are privy to some of the most confidential aspects of people’s lives. Many people understand that to be healthy, regular check-ups are necessary. But they might not be comfortable divulging intimate details to someone they see once a year or less.

When you are conversing about a patient’s medical history, for instance, they might pause before answering or hesitate on specific questions. That is your cue to probe for more details gently. Perhaps they are fidgety when talking about specific topics. Maybe they avoid eye contact when other issues are addressed. All of these non-verbal actions can signal to you that these are topics to be explored more in-depth. Being a good observer can help you make a more accurate diagnosis and help you be better at your job.

Be Kind

It may seem obvious, but being kind is an essential component of a pleasant bedside manner. It can be difficult dealing with people all day, often handing out upsetting news or performing tasks that can be unwelcome, such as giving shots. Some patients are calm and relaxed, but then, other times, you will have patients who are having a bad day regardless of their doctor visit. No matter what you do, they may not be in a good mood and might even be downright rude. 

Nevertheless, if you are friendly and courteous, then you will be working toward a positive experience and the next time they see you may not be as unpleasant. Working in an intense environment all day can sometimes make medical professionals cranky and short-tempered too. Nurses and doctors are only human, just like their patients, but even if you are stressed, always try to put your best foot forward; you’ll feel better knowing you did the best job you could.

In Conclusion

Your bedside manner plays a vital role in your ability to help people with their healthcare. Being able to communicate well with your patients makes a big difference in their treatment and recovery. 

Doing something as simple as wearing bright-colored fashion scrubs or taking time to smile before launching into questions can markedly reduce your patient’s stress levels, put them more at ease, and make them more receptive to your recommendations for improving their health and well-being.

Mehedi Hasan

Mehedi Hasan is an enthusiastic health blogger and the founder member of WOMS. He likes to share his thoughts to make people inspired about their fitness. He is an experienced writer and author on highly authoritative health blogs.

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