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3 ways for new doctors to improve bedside manner

Doctors in residency training must process a great deal of information. Although the learning curve is steep, one area that doctors should not overlook is how they interact with patients. Since a positive patient-physician relationship can mean the difference between good care and poor health, take note of the tips below for new doctors to improve bedside manner. Start practicing these suggestions while in residency training and the years following it.

3 ways new doctors can improve bedside manner:

1. Make a positive entrance

The first moments after a doctor enters the room could be the most important of the session. Patients may be feeling deep concern about whatever lies behind the visit. Their worries can include a cancer diagnosis or something else that is life-threatening.

You are in a unique and important position to help reduce their anxiety. Among the ways to do so are by making strong eye contact, smiling pleasantly, speaking clearly, and pronouncing their name correctly from the start of the conversation. Physicians such as Rachel Tobin Yale focus on forming personal relationships with patients as key to successful medicine.

2. More tips for new doctors: Ask questions

Reference librarians get to the heart of a patron’s search needs by asking a succession of questions. As a doctor, taking the same approach will encourage the patient to reveal more detailed, helpful information over the course of the interview.

For example, a patient asking to address shoulder pain may eventually reveal their greater worry to be centered on upper arm skin laxity. Make certain that you give the impression that you are actively listening to their concerns by using appropriate body language.

New doctors improve bedside manner when they learn what body language makes sense in certain situations. For instance, avoid crossing your arms as that can come across as threatening; instead, keep your arms open and be relaxed to send a positive message.

Also, be mindful of how you sequence your questions. Avoid overwhelming the patient, and slowly build to the more sensitive questions during the visit.

3. Provide understandable feedback

In the end, patients want to leave the room feeling confident and empowered about their health. Clearly spell out the diagnosis using understandable language. For new doctors to improve bedside manner, practicing the three suggestions on this list will help you become better at it.

That is, as opposed to medical jargon that just leaves them uneasy, feeling unintelligent in some cases, and uninformed about their medical condition. Try to use words that are not in your medical textbooks but instead everyday language, while avoiding talking down to the individual or their family.

Furthermore, it is important for you as a doctor to lay out step-by-step plans of action in which patients play a role. Be clear about how they can follow up if they have further questions, as part of empowering them.

Patients who leave a meeting with a doctor who does not practice a strong bedside-manner may not take the critical follow-through steps. They can feel unconfident and hopeless. Meanwhile, a physician’s effective bedside manner can bolster a patient’s confidence by helping them understand the treatment options available to them.

When new doctors improve bedside manner

Armed with knowledge and a feeling of genuine concern by the doctor, the patient can be on a better path than before the visit. For new doctors, embracing a positive physician-patient relationship model can increase the odds your patients act responsibly regarding their health condition.

That can make a big difference when it comes to treatment, not to mention improving their mental health. Over time, these tips for new doctors will become easier to follow and feel more natural.

1 thought on “3 ways for new doctors to improve bedside manner”

  1. So important! Especially right now, with all the masks and distance! I may just do a followup post on this – my aunt has dementia, and it makes doctor visits very challenging, and often frustrating and confusing for her!

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