Listen To My Heart…

March 2, 2011

Volunteering to observe interaction between doctor and patient, a journalist reported her experience of 18 second-year Harvard Medical School students encountering their first “live” cardiology case.

All of them passed the difficult art of auscultation (the stethoscope has not yet become obsolete, low-tech though it is), but most flunked the bedside-manner experiment. Indeed, can you remember the last time you heard the phrase “bedside-manner”? There is much concern not only from the AMA but other consumer-interest groups about physician/patient communication (a euphemism for bedside-manner). The consensus is that many MD’s, at least in their professional role, lack essential interpersonal skills. Not only did most students and attending physicians fail to address the patient by name, but as they begin private practice, it makes bad business sense to get chatty with their clients.

When I accompany my clients to meetings with their doctors, one of my first tasks is to establish effective dialog between the three of us. This is harder than it sounds. Now you know one of the reasons why.


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