Stories about: relational medicine

Communication and the patient experience: On being present, not perfect

Clinical excellence is the foundation of patient care. But at a recent TEDx Longwood event, Elaine C. Meyer, PhD, RN, co-founder and director of the Institute for Professionalism and Ethical Practice at Boston Children’s Hospital and an Associate Professor of Psychology at Harvard Medical School, offered insight on the other half of the health care equation: the human connection and the power of conversation.

Meyer’s moving presentation makes clear how communication—listening and sharing words of comfort—profoundly impacts patient experiences, as does its absence. Through heartfelt stories, including her own experience as a patient, her talk empowers physicians, nurses, social workers, psychologists and other medical staff to “be present” and communicate with patients and families compassionately.

“Dig deep, find your inspiration to have conversations,” Meyer says, because patients remember the words spoken to them and how those words made them feel.

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Another training: “Difficult” patients

More than half of my work as a gastroenterologist at Children’s involves critical skills I never learned in medical school, residency or even fellowship. I enjoy using these skills and have been lucky to have some gifted mentors. But having these skills shouldn’t be dependent upon luck.

I am talking about bedside manner generally, but more particularly, about communication in the context of strong emotions.

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