We’ve all experienced this scenario. You go to a doctor’s office and wait for 30 minutes to have the nurse bring you back to the examination room. Then, wait another 15 minutes to have the assistant come in and ask questions. Finally, after another 15 minutes, a doctor comes in and spends an even shorter period of time with you before he leaves the room, all for you to end up with a prescription in your hand for some medicine that you never wanted in the first place. Not only are you frustrated because you waited an hour but you felt like you didn’t get to fully explain the problems you are having so he can properly treat you.
At PTW, we teach our clinicians to actively listen so we can help to meet our patients’ goals.
Effective listening and communication skills are part of our training, such as;
- Learning to let the patient talk. Clinicians are not mind readers, so we have to listen. During the subjective examination, more than half of the conversation should be spoken by the patient. Not the clinician.
- Body language. Studies have shown that >50% of the communication is nonverbal. Can we say eye contact? Watching a patient’s body language often helps us understand the patient better.
- Ask open ended question and narrow it down with close ended questions. Questions that start with “why” invite a defensive response but questions start with “what” leads to productive communication.
- Process before you speak. It’s okay to pause and respond thoroughly. Very quick response can feel like there’s no understanding of what was said.
Once a diagnosis is figured out, our clinicians understand how to summarize the problem in a simple way, and have a game plan with your goals in mind. It is crucial to discuss the diagnosis and get the patient’s thoughts to come up with a mutually agreeable treatment plan to meet their goals.
If your physical therapist does not listen, consider coming in to PTW for a complementary screening at any of our 5 locations.
Andrew Seo, DPT