Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Bedside Manner

“He touched her hand and the fever left her…” (Matthew 8:15, NIV 1984).

I manage Bernard’s complications from sickle cell anemia. He is doing quite well and I rarely have to intervene medically. When I called him back to the examining room last Thursday, he shook my hand and said, “You sure have a good bedside manner, Doc. I mean it, you sure do have a good bedside manner.”

I was intrigued by his comments because I really had done nothing special in our encounters. I know that some of my patients like me, but I have never intentionally focused on developing a bedside manner. Perhaps I should have.

When this man was so forthright in commending my bedside manner, I “Google Scholar”ed the issue to see what in the world I might be doing right. I was fascinated by what I found because the most important components of bedside manner can be derived through common sense. Looking at the literature and using my own common sense, I found that a good bedside manner could be summarized with five words: smile, sit, touch, listen and love.

When we greet our patients in the dental chair or in the examining room, we should:

Smile because it says we are happy to be in their presence.

Sit because it says they are important enough to commit our time.

Listen, longer than we think is necessary, because it tells them their concerns are important.

Touch because our touching speaks commitment.

Love them because God loves them and has placed them in our care. Love covers up all kinds of other communication errors.

All of these can be accomplished with one extra minute with each patient.

All of them open the door for God to speak through our lives.

Smile, sit, listen, touch, love.

Dear God,
Help me to demonstrate your welcome with each patient I see.

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