Bedside Manner and Professionalism

health care professionals

The old prevailing wisdom is, bedside manner doesn’t matter for health care professionals. But, does it? We want all of our students and graduates at Concorde to be happy and successful health care professionals. So, we decided to take a closer look at bedside manner, professionalism and patient safety. We sought the advice of one of Concorde’s most prominent resident experts, Ferquita Stokes, MSN-Ed, RN, Regional Dean of Nursing. She had some great pearls of wisdom on how to maintain a sense of decorum and bedside manner, even in the fast-paced world of medical care and health care professionals.

Bedside manner for health care professionals

“Bedside manner is a dying art in the fast-paced world of medical care,” Stokes said. “Lately, one would assume it is the consumer’s right to be treated with care, patience and compassion when receiving care, but it seems to come with an additional fee.” Stokes asked, which professional would you prefer? There’s Kim, medical assistant, who enters the room, says good morning, offers a warm blanket, explains the procedure, applies her skills as an MA, checks to see if you’re comfortable and thanks you for the opportunity to serve you. Then, there is Jason, the nurse, who is only consumed with the task for the moment. Limited eye contact and no regard for how you feel as the patient. He encourages you to be still so he can hurry and get done, then leaves to answer a phone call. Between the two health care professionals, it is clear Kim would be the first choice. But what could one say about Jason?

Caught between the task and the patient

“Often, as health care professionals, we are caught between the task and the patient,” Stokes said. “We have our orders and what we know must be done to yield the results necessary for patient health, but we must remember the patient is the reason we have the task to perform in the first place. Stokes said to consider the following questions when preparing to interact with a client/patient:
  1. What is the patient here for today? If the patient has been diagnosed or waiting for results of a test, this might cause them to be a little tense, impatient or anxious. Do not take anything personal! The patient is not upset with you. They are acting out of fear for their situation.
  2. What is my role in the care of this patient? To know your role is to be a team player. Every position is vital to the continuity of care. If you act above or below your position, you will limit the patient experience as others will have to make up the difference.
  3. How can I help? Most times, people need to listen. Action might be required, but do you know what is needed first? As you are a vital part of the team, it is most important that you communicate effectively. This communication includes facial, verbal and bodily communications. Stokes often reminds students to “fix your face” as we sometimes might not realize our facial expressions show long before our words can get out.
  4. What do I want to leave behind? You’re training to learn how to take care of others and how to assist patients in their times of crisis, but what do you want to leave behind? How will you change the patient’s perception of what they are experiencing during this time?

Being caring health care professionals

Remember, the reason you decided to become a health care professional was to help those in your community. Professionalism and bedside manner are key to the patient experience. Can you think of a moment when you had to go the extra mile and how you changed the patient experience? How did you feel upon the completion of the patient experience? What did you learn from the patient?

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