Whether you’re pursuing a nursing career or are on the path to becoming a dental hygienist, bedside manner is an aspect of health care that cannot be ignored. A study published in The Journal of Family Practice reported that when doctors were able to come to an agreement with patients and respond to their unique needs, the patient experienced less discomfort and concern. The study also discovered that, in these circumstances, patients required fewer diagnostic tests and referrals to specialists.1
Creating well-balanced patient relationships is an essential component of health practitioner jobs that is often overlooked. In a study involving internal medicine interns it was discovered that only 40 percent of the interns actually introduced themselves to their patients and only 37 percent of the interns explained the role they were performing for their patients.2
Bedside manner is crucial to making patients feel comfortable during their health care experiences, so be sure to practice some of these methods for making your patient feel comfortable:
Without a person’s name it can be difficult to relate to them or feel like you have much of a connection at all. Don’t distance your patients from the beginning by omitting this one simple but significant bit of information about yourself. It doesn’t matter if you’re applying fissure sealant or if you’re recording the patient’s vitals, introducing yourself when you enter the room is an easy first step that should not be forgotten.
Explain your role
A patient is going to want to understand your part in their care, whether you’re taking X-rays as a dental assistant or collecting samples for a lab test as a nurse; it’s comforting to know who the people are around you when you’re in an unfamiliar situation. This will also make the patient feel like you’re concerned about their well-being because you’re taking the time to explain your position to them.
Be respectful, friendly, etc.
This one may seem obvious, but among all your other daily tasks and patients, keeping a courteous manner can be forgotten when hurrying through work assignments. Don’t be afraid to slow down for a minute when first meeting a patient. A visit to the doctor or dentist can quickly become unpleasant when staff are not attentive to a patient’s needs.
Stay mindful of your time
That being said, while it is extremely important to listen to a patient’s concerns and care for their needs, don’t let it encroach on your other responsibilities. Give each patient a fair amount of time by explaining the situation, describing your role and answering questions they may have, but, after this is complete, it is OK to move on to your next assignment. With this in mind, have an exit strategy prepared in case you meet someone particularly chatty. To do this, keep control of the conversation by leading most of the questions and gently interrupting if the patient begins to ramble. At this point you can summarize what you’ve discussed with them and then conclude the conversation with a prepared phrase to exit the discussion.
These tips are not only good practice for those looking into a nursing career or a dental assistant career but can also apply to those in vet tech programs. A lot of people consider their pets to be part of the family, so meeting the people who will be taking care of their animals is essential in making owners feel comfortable when leaving beloved pets in your care.
1 “The Impact of Patient-Centered Care on Outcomes,” The Journal of Family Practice, July, 2000. http://www.jfponline.com/home/article/the-impact-of-patient-centered-care-on-outcomes/cf6dea3a25d2b2f6100d4b3ffeae12e4.html?tx_ttnews%5BsViewPointer%5D=1
2 “Do internal medicine interns practice etiquette-based communication? A critical look at the inpatient encounter,” Journal of Hospital Medicine, Nov. 2013. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jhm.2092/abstract