Ways to develop a better bedside manner


Doctors can attend the best medical schools and gain hands-on experience at the most prestigious medical facilities, but if they can’t connect with their patients, there’s something missing. That’s compassion and the ability to communicate effectively with patients and their families during a very vulnerable and scary time in their lives.

Take for example Brain Boyle, who was in a car accident that nearly took his life. As a result, he had a host of serious health problems, including collapsed lungs, major organ failure, a shattered pelvis, loss of 60 percent of his blood--and his heart literally shifted across his chest. It was the 14 surgeries that saved his life, but it’s the compassion and communication skills of his care team that he writes about in a recent KevinMD.com blog post.

“These hard-working men and women walked into my room with a smile on their faces on a daily basis, addressed me by my name, read my get well cards on the wall and spoke to my family,” he writes. “There was a sense of trust developing each time we saw them. Even at times when my visual field was restricted to the ceiling or a wall in my room, I could instantly recognize their uplifting energy.”

Still, sometimes nothing drives home the importance of a good bedside manner as when a physician gets sick. Listening intently and spending quality time with patients are two pieces of advice shared by Sunell Dhand, M.D., a Boston area-based internal medicine physician, in a separate KevinMD.com blog post

He recommends sitting down and speaking face-to-face with patients and their families--putting aside for a moment the demands of your day and the computer. Patients have likely been waiting to see their doctor all day, so make it a meaningful experience, writes Dhand.