6th May 2016

Effective Communication Skills For Doctors

Today, doctors are mindful of delivering efficient services in a least resources. Without a good communication, you still won’t be able to make the most of it. Communication means being able to give others the right information in a clear and concise mind with a rightful attitude. A good communication gives you a more satisfying interaction with people around you and helps you manage resources and be more effective and efficient.

Being able to communicate effectively means making the most of every opportunity to know your patients: being positive and encouraging at your workplace, showing empathy, concerns to your patients and response them wisely. Knowing yourself as a communicator and your better ways to communicate leads to better outcomes maximizing your personal effectiveness at your work.

Good communication is a must at every stage of your career. You must have coherent developing and learning communication skills. Poor communication leads to weariness among colleagues, dissatisfaction among patients, lack compliance and medico legal problems. An improvement in your communication skills could have a positive effect on all these.

Medical schools focuses on teaching and assessment of communication skills. You are observed for your interactions with others through exams, supervisions, workplace based assessments and appraisals. In foundation years, you will need to develop basic communication skills as outlined in Good Medical Practice. Your performance will be reflected in your e-portfolio. You will be asked about your communications skills at your specialty training interviews. Your job interviews will ask about your leadership skills, initiative, empathy and team playing and how you motivate, negotiate and deal conflict for the betterment.

As a doctor, it’s a great deal of a patient feedback influencing your practice and you managing stress. This is all about your communication skills. In your career path you are expected to identify your weakness and plans to improve them. In 2008, the Medical Leadership Competency Framework encouraged self-awareness of your strengths and weaknesses.

Top tips for effective communication

  1. Clear Language

Avoid waffling and tailor your language to your patients’ understanding and need of information.

  1. Be conscious about your non-verbal communication.

Keeping eye contact while conveying messages. Rolling eyes and looking around in your computer etc. gives an adverse effect while talking.

  1. Negotiate Agenda

Explain the purpose of consultation and its need. Ask patients there need from consultation and negotiate over treatment.

  1. Patients’ thought on the treatment

Determine whether the patient agrees with your diagnosis and management plan. If not, they won’t adhere to the treatment.

  1. Be flexible in discussion

Tailor your approach to each of your patients. A more directive approach may be good for patients who involve less in decision-making process.

  1. Providing more information to patients

Patient wants to know more about the diseases causes and likely diagnosis and prognosis, side effects and advices on what they can do for themselves to relieve from physical and mental pain.

  1. Reflect on interactions with others

A doctor is mostly criticised on their communications skills. It is the failure of listening to them and providing sufficient explanation. Reflect on the outcomes of your interaction to patients and others as well.

  1. Apologise for mistakes

Apologise and express regret for your mistake to your patient, which will help avert conflict in-between. Ineffective communication is the single factor for litigation by patient.

  1. Empathise and hear them out

Your good relation with the patient facilitates therapeutic space where patient can express concerns and receive support and advice. A doctor with empathy could relate and understand what a patient is experiencing and communicate that understanding. Listen to what they have to say and why, while listening you must silence your thoughts and diagnostic reasoning processes.

  1. Mindful Practice

It’s an ability to observe the patient and your own performance during the consultation. Mindful doctors are present, attentive, interested, curious and unhindered by preconception.

  1. Establish Rapport

Your patient’s emotional content is a key to build a rapport with your patient. Doctors often respond to emotional signs like offering premature reassurance, explaining distress as normal get a way, and “jollying” patients along.

Communication is important in all aspects of a doctor. You can maximise your potentials, effectiveness and personal performance while improving patient relationship and career progression. 

Other doctor's guidance related blogs:

Tips for A Perfect Medical CV

Choosing A Specialty – A Doctor Guide