What Is Bedside Manner?
Becoming a doctor requires attending medical school, passing USMLEs, gaining clinical experience, and landing a residency in your field. Being a good doctor means learning how to respect the nurses you work with and providing patients with a good bedside manner.
Once your clinical rotations begin, you’ll need to learn how to thoroughly assess patients quickly. Starting intravenous lines and inserting gastric tubes will become regular tasks. These and other types of procedures tend to make patients uncomfortable and nervous.
That’s why it’s so important that you develop interpersonal skills that are strong enough to put patients at ease. This is known as good bedside manner in the medical industry.
Your bedside manner is the way you, as a healthcare professional, treat, engage with and communicate with patients. When the manner is “good,” that means you treat patients the way you would want to be treated.
5 Components of Good Bedside Manner?
These are the most common five components that determine the quality of your bedside manner as a med school student, intern, resident, and future physician:
Patients can sense when you’re rushing through assessments and interactions to get to the next task. Try to give each individual patient your undivided attention.
Communicating with doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals is different than engaging with patients. You need to use terminology patients understand when explaining conditions, treatments, and procedures. People fear the unknown. Make sure your patients are as educated as possible about their medical situations.
Speak to your patients with kindness and understanding. Be patient, empathetic, and compassionate with communicating and engaging with them.
Give your patients honesty, without being rude or too blunt. Never lie to them about their conditions or prognoses. Patents have rights. One is knowing the truth about their personal health. So, never lie to them.
It’s your duty as a health care worker to always be courteous and polite when working with patients. Show them the same respect you would want if you were in their shoes. Remember, multiple clinical professionals, run in and out of their rooms. So, be sure to introduce yourself and let the patient know why you’re there.
The Patient Benefits of Good Bedside Manner
If you want to be considered a good doctor, don’t wait until you’re a physician to start developing a good bedside manner. You need to start now, while you’re still in medical school. That way, you start establishing strong patient communication and interpersonal skills now.
As a medical school student, you are judged every day on your professional skills, knowledge, interactions with nurses, and the way you handle patients. If you fall short on patient communication and engagement, this goes into your record.
Good skills remain with you throughout your medical career. Your patients will feel more comfortable and at ease with you, which means they’ll trust your judgment more. This boosts your industry leverage on your journey to become a doctor in the US.
5 Tips for Practicing Good Bedside Manner
Some med school students develop positive bedside manners on their own. Others don’t have the best natural people skills, so they need to work a little harder at it. Here are five tips to help you practice a bedside manner that’s positive for patients and healthy for your future career as a doctor:
1. Always Make Eye Contact
People who won’t look you in the eye when they talk to you appear to be shady. Give your patient’s eye contact so you appear trustworthy, making it easier to connect with them.
2. Listen Attentively
Your patient needs to feel like you’re listening to feel comfortable enough to communicate with you. Allow them to explain their feelings and ask questions, so they know they’ve been heard.
3. Try Not to Interrupt
Don’t listen just to respond. Wait until your patients have completed their thoughts before making points or answering questions. Interrupting them is rude and impolite. It makes it seem like you don’t care.
4. Do NOT Judge
Every patient has the right to make decisions related to his/her care. It’s not your job to judge those choices, even if you would make different ones if you were in the patient’s shoes.
5. Remain Focused
When doing clinical rounds, it doesn’t take much to become distracted with so many tasks on your plate. Regardless, you need to remain focused on your patient if you plan to provide quality medical care.
Developing Good Bedside Manner: What’s Your Next Step?
If you want to be considered a good doctor, don’t wait until you’re a physician to start developing the right skill sets. You need to start NOW, while you’re still in medical school. That way, you begin establishing strong patient communication and interpersonal skills right now!
As a medical student, you’re not only judged on professional knowledge, but also on your interactions with staff and the way you care for patients. If you fall short on patient communication and engagement, this goes into your record.
Good skills remain with you throughout your medical career. Your patients will feel more comfortable and at ease with you, which means they’ll trust your judgment more. This boosts your industry leverage on your journey to become a physician in the US.
Get the good bedside manner training you need to become a practicing physician in the US. Learn more about the MedSmarter Step 2 CK Courses, Clinical Placements, and Residency Preparation programs.