Having to go to the doctor’s office or hospital isn’t typically on anyone’s list of fun things to do. Whether you’re sick, hurt, or a friend or family member of the patient who is, it can be a very stressful, emotional experience. The last thing you want to deal with is a physician with a cold attitude.
As a manager at medical clinic, addressing the importance of empathy with your nursing unit is crucial.
Having a nurse with a caring personality can make all of the difference in the world in a patient’s visit. Showing more empathy, defined as the ability to understand and share the feelings of others, can have a measurable impact on patient outcomes. A few words of kindness and a little emotional support from a nurse go a long way in patience satisfaction. Challenge your staff to implement the following tips in order to improve their patient care.
Make eye contact.
Making eye contact is a basic technique a nurse can use to show empathy towards a patient. Even though they may be busy taking measurements or reading charts, it’s important for nurses to make eye contact when asking a patient questions or answering their questions. Eye contact shows that you’re actually listening and really care about what the person has to say. Nonverbal body language speaks even more loudly than words, and avoiding eye contact with patients damages any sense of connection.
Remember personal details.
This begins with knowing how to pronounce the patients name correctly. Once you meet a patient for the first time, you should never have to ask them how to pronounce their name again or say it incorrectly. If it’s a complicated name to say, write it out phonetically on their chart. Take the time to jot down other personal details during their visit as well; while they don’t expect you to remember the name of their pet rabbit, you should at least be able to remember how many kids they have and ask how said kids are doing. Remembering key personal details will help cultivate feeling of empathy and help you understand where the patient is coming from.
Spend an extra minute.
A common complaint from patients is that they feel like their nurse is in a hurry and doesn’t have time for them. Even though you’re busy, try adding one additional minute to each visit with a patient. Use that extra 60 seconds to make small talk and gather personal details. Ask how they’re doing generally, not only medically. Patients will notice that you’re making an effort and actually care about them.
Show your support.
When you notice a patient is upset or worried, take the time to acknowledge that they’re going through a difficult time. Provide words of encouragement and let them know that they are in good hands. When delivering bad news or a new diagnosis, emphasize how you are happy to answer any questions they may have and talk through the situation with them.
Ask for feedback.
Ask patients for feedback on your staff’s empathy. Design a survey and use the responses to score empathy level. This will hold nursing staff accountable for their interactions with patients.
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