Imagine you’re a patient in isolation. You’re scared, and whenever doctors or nurses come in, they’re covered head-to-toe in protective clothing. Gloves, mask, goggles, gown, etc. You hardly get to see your family and when you do, they’re also in the protective clothing. You feel alone, you start to ask yourself what’s wrong with you. What do you want the doctors to say?
It all comes down to communication. That is the most important thing in healthcare. Whether you’re a doctor, receptionist, nurse, etc. You’re going to have to be able to communicate with both patients, and other healthcare providers. Having good communication skills in the medical field is the first step in good teamwork. You are never going to be working alone in any profession in the medical field, so it is important to practice this skill as soon as possible.
With that being said, communicating can be more than just verbal expressions. Touch is the most powerful form of communication. In the example mentioned at the beginning, you would want the doctors to make you feel safe, comfortable, as well as reassuring you that you were in good hands. This could be done in both verbally or by touch.
Another important thing to know going into the medical field is the difference between empathy and sympathy.
Anyone can be sympathetic, that’s just feeling sorry for the position that someone is in. But it takes a great deal of strength to continuously be empathetic as a health care provider. Being empathetic is not just feeling sorry for someone, but also trying to put yourself in their shoes to better understand their needs and wants to make them feel better about it. Every patient you encounter has a different story and different diagnosis, so it’s important to keep being empathetic to better understand their position, and that is why it takes a lot of strength.
Lauren Schaffer is a student at Blue Valley High School. She is completing her 4th semester at CAPS, having taken taken Sports Medicine 1 & 2 and Foundations of Medicine 1. Lauren is currently enrolled in Foundations of Medicine Research & Innovation and will be sitting for her CNA certification in April. She plans to attend Pittsburg State University and major in nursing.