As an attending physician, you have a burden of responsibility when it comes to communicating with your patients. A physician who’s keen and comfortable with communicating and establishing rapport with their patients is going to not only set their patients at ease, but also have better doctor-patient relationships overall.
And honestly, this should be a huge goal.
What’s an attending physician?
An attending physician is basically a medically trained doctor who has completed all required training. This includes medical school, residency, and fellowship (if applicable to their specialty).
Great communication for this level of medical professional is a really good thing.
In fact, it’s a necessity.
As a doctor, you don’t want your patients to be uncomfortable.
You also don’t want to be unapproachable or seen as ‘cold’ by your patients.
Some people are legitimately intimidated by doctors.
They feel that this person might be too busy to hear their problems or spend time on their aches, pains, fears, worries, and other health issues.
But the truth of the matter is that a good doctor will always want to invest in his or her patients—and communication plays a big role in this.
So let’s break it down and talk about 5 tips for how attending physicians can improve their communication skills, starting with the simplest skill of all—making and maintaining high-quality eye contact.
1. Make Eye Contact
As a doctor, it’s really important that you be comfortable with making eye contact with your patients.
But even more so than that, it’s important that you take responsibility for initiating it.
See, your patients may be dealing with a whole range of different negative emotions.
They may be in pain, they may be worried, they may be anxious, and they may even be embarrassed to talk about the problem.
Making eye contact is really the first step in establishing a great doctor-patient relationship.
Giving your patients a good smile indicates that you’re happy to see them, and that you’re pleased that they’ve made their way into your office.
Regardless of whether or not this is particularly true in this case, you still want them to believe it.
Because as a physician, their health and well-being is your primary concern.
As a doctor, you want to make sure that you deliver the best care possible to every patient.
And to be really honest, the best medicine usually starts with a smile and a kind word.
3. Get On The Patient’s Level
Some very successful pediatricians have learned that when they stoop down, kneel down, or find some other way to get on an eye-to-eye level with their young patients—this helps them to build trust and prevent distance within the doctor-patient relationship.
But honestly, doctors in any discipline could take a page from this playbook.
Get on your patients’ level and meet them where they are.
They’ll be incredibly grateful for your assistance.
4. Establish Rapport
It’s really important not to let any possible negative feelings you may be having as a doctor at any particular moment affect your patients.
In fact, the opposite is true.
You want to establish a positive, beneficial, trusting patient-doctor relationship with the person standing or sitting across from you.
And the reason for this is pretty obvious.
The better your rapport is with your patients, the more open and honest they’ll tend to be with you.
And thus, the better care you’ll be able to provide.
5. Take Time To Listen
There’s no doubt about it.
As a doctor, you’re most certainly going to have a busy life.
Every single day, your calendar is probably going to be filled minute to minute with important things to do.
However, whenever it’s possible, always take a bit of time to listen to your patient—and to also be willing to ask follow-up questions to help them provide you with the information you need to not only diagnose the problem, but to provide adequate treatment.
As a doctor, you really have the potential to save lives and change health outcomes for many people.
But listening to their problems so that you can make an accurate diagnosis is really where it all starts.
There you have it.
Our top 5 favorite tips for how an attending physician can improve their communication skills.
These tips will help you to have the very best doctor-patient relationships possible.
All that’s left now is to get out there and make it happen.