Saturday, February 18, 2012

Talking- and Listening

EMS World is currently re-running an excellent article about Professional Etiquette.
It starts out by mentioning that this is another subject we really aren't taught in EMT class. We are told to "be professional," but aren't told what, exactly, that means.

A lot of the article has to do with responding appropriately. This is a theme that has been on my mind.

I heard a brief thing on the radio last night, bemoaning how facebook has turned everyone into a bunch of rude people. I don't agree. I think anyone who is rude on facebook was likely rude to start with. One of the things that was mentioned was how facebook has made people expect a more immediate response to everything. I'm not sure that's true, but it does seem like an awful lot of people are in a hurry all the time.

That's the connection my mind made to the article- are we in such a hurry that we are ignoring some of the things we should be paying attention to at a call? Are we overlooking things, not only procedural things, but common niceness and consideration of our patients?

The article points out how rude it is to ask someone a question, and then not wait for the answer. During an assessment, we have to ask a lot of questions. Sometimes, the patient needs to think to figure out how to answer them. I know that feeling. Often, questions don't seem to apply to me the same way they apply to other people, or at least my answers are quite different, and sometimes, I have to figure out how to phrase things, or explain things, so I'm understood. I'm sure patients feel the same way.

One of the things that was a big challenge for me (and many others, I'm sure) at first was learning how to manage a conversation with a patient so that I get my questions answered, AND they get to say whatever they want to say. Some of them want to talk about things in a very roundabout way. Some get easily distracted. Some want to explain their medical history from before they were born, when I want to know what has happened in the past hour.

I didn't get much, if any, instruction in this in class. No guidance on how to redirect when necessary, or on how to really listen to a patient. The medics I have the most respect for are the ones who excel at this, who are able to talk to and listen to their patients.

I'd love to see more articles or blog posts about learning to do this well.

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