DO YOU REALLY LISTEN TO YOUR PATIENTS?
When people come to you in pain, what do you do? Do you sit there and ask them a litany of questions, writing them down without making any eye contact? Or do you just listen and hope that you remember everything later? Or do you do a bit of both?
Take yourself out of the picture and put yourself in your patient’s shoes.
Ego is big thing in health care. We have all seen it, whatever profession you are in. The ego is such a mind suck when it comes to treating patients one on one. Leave it on the table for crying out loud. The ego will never win my friends. It is too hungry and will never get satisfied.
But your soul will. Your ego should not make your business decisions. Your soul should.
Doing one on one work as we do, we develop a special bond with our patients. When I worked on Wall Street, I developed this same special relationship with my clients. Completely different professions but the principles are the same. It is called TRUST.
When you meet someone for the first time, take their history, perform the clinical evaluation etc., you are developing a relationship with that person. First impressions matter.
I once had a patient who told me that after telling her story to me, she felt so much better that she felt she did not need to come back. She was pain free. And all that took was just looking her in the eye and lending an ear. Is that hard?
As Physical Therapists, we all want to help people in our own way. Every patient is different and will have different needs. The person who just had an ACL repair will need something different than someone who has had chronic pelvic pain for 10 years. Right?
It is all about understanding the needs of the person who is sitting in front of you. And that takes listening and asking the right questions.
Ask the patient what they think is their problem. After all, it is their body. And trust me, if they have had chronic pain they will have a theory.
And if you ignore that theory or let your ego take over believing that they are wrong about what ails them, then you will miss an important part of the interaction and that is their belief system.
If you listen long and hard you will be able to find a way into their system whether it is by validating or invalidating their belief.
Your patient is at the center of whatever model, puzzle, paradigm that you use in your clinical reasoning process. If they are not at the forefront of your decision making then you invariably make a conscious choice to step away from the HUMAN side of medicine and throw away the HEAL in HEAL-ing and the HEAL in HEAL-thcare.
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