Your job as health care professionals is not just to diagnose your patients by applying your scientific knowledge and clinical skills, but also to effectively communicate, listen and reassure.
Without that, you can't become the best you can be.
Over 90% of your day as a physician involves being a good communicator.
You’ve already reached a certain standard of clinical competence to be able to practice medicine and be unleashed on the general public.
The rest is on you, to communicate well with patients and leave a positive impression at a low point in their lives.
It’s so easy to consider every patient "just another name on the list” (and very human too, we all fall into that trap).
But the patient who is about to walk in and see you, or lying in the room you are about to enter, may have been waiting to see you for hours, days or weeks.
Imagine a family member or friend, the one you love the most, in that helpless situation where their life is turned upside down.
It’s important you never forget that, and remember that a large number of your patients are very anxious about the situation they are in.
The number one thing your patients want in those precious few minutes you have with them, is to feel that their doctor truly cares and is there to help them.
That’s your job in a nutshell.
There are several verbal and non-verbal techniques that can reinforce that sense of caring and connection.
On that note, here are five words that you can use at the end, that can help reassure them.
Most of the time, when discussing any potential serious issue that is going to be very treatable, any physician can simply lean in and say with a calm reassuring empathetic voice:
“It’s going to be OK”.
This may sound like a very basic statement, but is a very powerful thing for a patient to hear from their medical professional! It’s underutilized in health care, especially by doctors.
You may use this statement anytime you are talking to an anxious person, who is offloading a problem that concerns them, onto you.
Do you have a friend who is in trouble? A family member who is worried about something?
Be a good listener, give them some trusted advice and just tell them that “it’s going to be OK”.
Obviously, sometimes a problem might be so bad that it may not be OK or solvable.
But most of the time, and for most people, there are better days ahead, and things will get better.
So tell them things are going to be OK.
It’s one of the best things you can say to anyone who is in a tough spot in life.