Mind Your (Bedside) Manners

Teaching physicians the art of empathy, along with the science of medicine, improves patient experience and encourages healing.

>> Every day, patients struggle to find meaning in the face of illness, looking to their physician for guidance. Doctors who are able to balance knowledge with wisdom, scientist with humanist, are more adept at helping patients find their way.

To encourage relationships between physicians and patients that are respectful and compassionate, Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Healthcare Communication (CEHC) created a course, Foundations of Healthcare Communication. By April 2014, 4,000 Cleveland Clinic staff physicians, residents and fellows had completed it.

Based on the concept that relationships between provider and patient can be therapeutic to both parties, the one-day intensive workshop teaches the REDE model: Relationship: Establishment, Development, Engagement.

“If you don’t have a relationship first, patients aren’t going to listen to your medical expertise,” says Katie Neuendorf, MD, who directs the resident and fellow training.

The course involves intensive skills-based practice and peer feedback, with participants sharing common communication challenges and applying new communication techniques.

“Every clinician I’ve come across genuinely cares about their patients,” says Adrienne Boissy, MD, MA, CEHC Director. “It’s our job to make sure the patients actually feel that care — that we recognize their fear and can respond to it verbally.

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