Anyone working in a service industry requires good communication skills. In today’s world of rapid-fire electronic information, there is an even greater need for good interpersonal skills – especially in healthcare.
There is an art and a science to communication with patients. There are times when specific information must be relayed; how to care for themselves at home, medications and follow up, for example. These things can be discussed and reinforced with printed material, but it’s the conversation that engages, allows validation, and encourages questions.
I fear the day when nurses and care techs substitute texts for face-to-face rounds. With a generation raised on texting, we must be careful not to lose the art of conversation and human touch. It’s the engagement, soft touch of a hand and simple presence that humans need when they are feeling vulnerable and frightened.
Imagine this instead of nurses’ hourly rounds:
Nurse: LMK what U need.
Patient: (frowning emoji)
Nurse: Due in 45. K?
Patient: K (another frowning emoji)
This may be a slight exaggeration, but given a choice, there are times when I think our millennials would rather text than talk to patient. As leaders and role models we must continue to model the way, and encourage human interaction. These are skills that must be fostered if we are to remain an industry rooted in compassion and empathy.