Saturday, October 01, 2005

Clinical Skills: The science of communication

This class, the whole "you're a doctor now" class is pretty boring. Our first lecture was on how important communication is. Then we had a lecture on how to talk to people, "Ask open ended questions... Give non-verbal reinforcement (mmm-hmmm, head nodding etc.)... Summarize what your patient says." This is mostly good for a few bad jokes.

I: This summarizing thing is so stupid. Won't people just get annoyed?
C: So what you're saying is that summarizing is annoying.

S: So how old are you?
I: I'm 25
S: How long has this been going on for?
I: Couple months.

I: Why did you come in today?
S: My knee hurts.
I: No. NO NO NO NO NO! You're getting it all wrong. It's supposed to be your knee.

Anyway, research indicates that first year medical students take a better history than upperclassmen, who take a better history than residents, and so on up the medical ladder. The solution ot improving patient-doctor communication? ABOLISH MEDICAL SCHOOL.

The whole communciation thing is unsurprising to me because even in normal conversation I try to do the same things, have ever since I un-gave-up on the non-supernerds. I've been accused of trying to make stilted and controlled something that should come naturally. On the other hand, it's transformed a lot of anemic conversations, so I'm willing to work with the science of communication. In principle.

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