Doctors and nurses pass on everything they have to their students – including their bad habits. Because they have the position of authority in a teaching hospital or clinical environment, their position on the medical chain of command is so stiff and formalized, so institutionalized and military.
In crisis situations, as medical situations often are, people need to do what they are told to do. Sometimes, the patient gets caught in the middle of the press and stress.
- The cold laser focus of medical professionals, their analytic and problem-solving mindset is just not cut out for positive bedside manner.
- Medical professionals often sublimate their stress and responsibility, and brusque and cold behavior becomes a defensive behavior.
- In hierarchical structures, arrogance attaches itself to the positions in descending order.
- Med professionals are often quite tired, hungry and burned out.
- Even empathetic professionals find trouble expressing their feelings adequately and well.
- Patients find uniforms cold and clinical. But, modern Healing Hands scrubs have the advantage of color, patterns, and less threatening fashion design touches.
- Pediatric patients are warmed by the cheerful colors and illustrations on scrubs.
- Stop thinking of patients as customers; start thinking of them as clients who can rate your performance online.
- Medicine is an art in which success depends on holistic influences as much as clinical science.
- Look professional: clean scrubs, good manners, respectful listening skills, and appropriate body language.
- Never see a patient you do not know. It only takes seconds to check a patient file for name, background info, and status. Introduce yourself to family and visitors and explain your availability to them.
- Behave like a doctor while in the patient’s presence: wash your hands, take notes, fuss over the machines and equipment, scan reports, and ask open questions.
- Establish and sustain eye-to-eye contact with patient while the patient is talking.
- Respect the patient’s privacy, and that includes not entering the personal space without permission.
- Patient’s look for you to be in charge – without being an unsympathetic dictator.
Some patients make you want to quit the profession. Some are unreasonably demanding. Some are so ill, your manners are not the first thing on their mind.
But, medical care is coming to terms with the fact that healing is complex matrix. And, personal compassion may be the nexus of the mix.
- Smile under all circumstances to lighten your voice and warm your spirit.
- Fuss over the room as if you were a hotel bellhop.
- Engage in small talk. After all, caregivers do not have to be dull and insensitive.
- Imitate the medical doctor or nurse with the kind of bedside you admire.
- Imagine the patient is a family member, and behave as you would like to have that loved one treated.
Compassion is a virtue and a talent. You can train to it, and you can practice it. To be fair, the great majority of doctors and nurses treat patients well and attentively. There are plenty of role models out there. But, the profession would benefit from focused and structured statement in the skill and from a mentoring assessment system. But, you can start with the smile!