New Medical School Tries to Teach Bedside Manner

Doctors go to school to learn everything they need to know to diagnose patients, treat disease and save lives. While incorporated into medical school curricula and residency programs, bedside manner often takes a backseat to more serious and life-preserving lessons. Continue reading to find out how medical schools and hospitals are attempting to develop compassionate caregivers. Schools offering Health Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.


Basics of Bedside Manner

Unless they've completed independent volunteer work, medical students often don't see patients until their second and, more often than not, third year. Up until that point they have been learning the ins and outs of every human science and foundational medical course imaginable. AIDET is one of the popular acronyms that medical school students memorize; the letters represent the words acknowledge, introduce, duration, explain and thanks. Aspiring physicians are also taught to actively listen and clearly communicate. But the question still looms: Can bedside manner really be taught?

Medical Internships and Learning Experiences

Usually in the second half of the medical school curriculum, students begin to take part in supervised clinical rotations. During this time, they learn to diagnose and interact with patients by shadowing experienced doctors. Besides learning about the physical needs of patients, they often explore the emotional needs as well. Aspiring doctors take cues from their more experienced leaders, typically examining relationship-building strategies and other techniques for making patients comfortable. They may also see what the field refers to as 'standardized patients,' individuals who are regular people acting out illnesses. Standardized patients test med school students on their listening, interviewing and diagnosing methods. After mock patient sessions, the actors score questioning physicians on knowledge and general bedside manner; they may also offer suggestions for improvement.

New Study About Learning Bedside Manner

In an effort to find a way to strengthen bedside manner and see if the process could in fact be learned, Dr. William T. Branch of Emory University School of Medicine conducted a study that followed physician teachers at five different sites for 18 months. Each group of doctors met at least twice a week to go over their experiences with patients and offer helpful tips to each other. At the end of the study, they were shown to have more effective bedside manner than their control counterparts. This study begs a number of questions, including how nurturing were the doctors who signed up for the study to begin with? However, the study is a start, and hospitals and universities across the country have begun to change their focus to attempt to strengthen patient relations.

Newer Approaches for Teaching Importance of Effective Patient Interaction

Incidentally, because med school students have spent so much of their time and energy focusing on their studies, once they get to the patient, the humanism and compassion is sometimes lacking. In response to this, more and more medical schools, including those at Harvard University and New York University, have been focusing on revamping their curricula. Similarly, the newer, provisionally accredited medical school at Florida International University in Miami is going to begin to let their second-year students go into the community to help local indigent families. The goal is to have students interact with patients sooner and ultimately create a better experience for all involved.

The doctors on the hit television show 'Grey's Anatomy' have been seen using Twitter to learn. Find out how Twitter can help in real life classrooms.

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