Developing a Great Bedside Manner

Developing a Great Bedside MannerYou may have heard of a bedside manner in your physical therapy practice. But what does constitute a great one? Why does one have to be keen on developing a great bedside manner? What is it there for the physical therapist?

A bedside manner is something that many physical therapists have a hard time understanding, much more defining it. It is almost impossible to utter the words to clearly understand what a bedside manner is. But one thing is for sure: a great bedside manner is what many patients and physical therapists alike wish to have. On the other hand, this kind of manner is lacking to some PTs, be it done deliberately or not. Deliberately as meant by the fact that with the current changes in health care, patients become more of a client than the actual patient. Almost gone are the days when the patient receives extra care from physical therapists by having strong interpersonal relationships.

EMRs or the electronic medical records may further help the physical therapist on certain aspects of the profession but in terms of having more patient-PT interaction, this is not the case. Instead of learning more of the patient through face-to-face communication, the physical therapist may spend more time upgrading the database system of the EMR. Even so, one just cannot do away with interpersonal relationships yet- and not even in the near future. Being physical therapists, you treat people, true, but more than that, you should be able to help them in more ways than just the treatment. So being so, how do you cultivate a great bedside manner?

Be respectful

A great bedside manner begins by showing respect to your patients. When you are in a health care facility, the first time you visit your patient, you need to introduce yourself not just to the patient but also to the family. They may know you through other health care workers, but they may not know you personally. In order to create that special rapport, always assume that the patient does not know you and as with any kind of relationship, giving time for introductions to prepare both parties to be comfortable with each other.

When introducing yourself, be clear in speaking your name. Be professional about it and one of the best ways to show you are one is to shake the patient’s hands or any member of the family’s who is present at that time. A handshake also provides the human side of your actions. In addition to this, it is best that you see the patient eye-to-eye, literally. If the patient is in a wheelchair, sit at their level and look him or her eye-to-eye. This would make the patient feel you are an equal and he or she is not the subordinate.

Listening is the key

After you have introduced yourself, you need to show how you can help the patient. You can actually use the phrase, “How can I help you?” to ease the tension of the first meeting. By asking the right question, you show the patient that you are ready to help him or her. This kind of question would also enable the patient to tell you what ails him or her. You may feel that you need to interrupt but doing so is not the right method. Allow the patient to finish his piece first. Believe it, patients would appreciate you more. Make sure that when you are talking to the patient, you are looking him or her at the eye. Don’t be distracted by other things. Show the patient that you care by giving him or her your undivided attention. As much as possible, switch your cellphone to silent mode if you are still with the patient. Some patients find the physical therapist using the cellphone during the session rude and intrusive.

Honesty is still the best policy

One thing that patients do not like their physical therapists doing is to give a guess in answering. It would be better if the answer is an honest one. Be prepared to give reassuring responses if there is uncertainty in the condition of the patient.

Speak so to be understood

Using jargon during your conversation with the patient sounds very professional, right? It may be but you are not speaking with a co-worker. You are speaking with the patient and the patient needs to understand what you are saying. Having said that, you need to use simple words so the patient can understand what you mean by the condition. Stick to laymen’s terms when discussing the condition and use medical terms only when the patient seems to understand these words. In addition, there are words that seem too simple for you but for the patient, these are already jargon. If you are loss for words, then find some other means to explain the condition in a way that the patient understands.

Once the session is about to end, also you need to reiterate the salient points so that you and the patient have understood the whole situation. Wrap the whole thing by asking whether the patient has some more questions or not.

These tips may sound too simple for you but these are fool-proof ways of creating great bedside manner when dealing with patients. What do you think?


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