Comforting and reassuring patients

by Shweta Ramkumar

I recently had a conversation with a patient at my radiology job. While I usually speak to them to book them in for radiology scans, this particular interaction was feedback, bordering on the lines of a complaint, towards one of the newer sonographers at one of our clinics. The patient was elderly, having an ultrasound for the first time ever, and while she was very appreciative of the rapport the sonographer had built with her while conducting the ultrasound, she did raise the issue of the device being pressed too hard at times in her abdomen area which ended up leaving her in pain and discomfort for days. I checked her appointment details and that of the sonographer, gathered she was a trainee, asked the patient further questions about her overall experience at the clinic and emailed them through the feedback she had provided.

Radiology technicians such as radiographers, sonographers, MRI and nuclear medicine technicians have a double whammy of a challenging job. Not only do they have to be technically competent in using various complex machinery, have detailed knowledge of the structure and functionality of the human body, be thorough, precise and accurate in the way they take images; but they also have a duty of care for patients and need effective communication skills to build rapport with them. Patients may be having these scans for the first time in their lives and often don’t know what to expect, they may have phobias of the dimensions of radiology equipment or radiation itself while they are already in an injured, unwell, in pain or vulnerable position. Hence, it is important for technicians to not only explain in detail the steps of what each scan entails and answer any questions patients have, they have to demonstrate a lot of empathy and reassure patient safety while making them feel safe throughout. Phrases such as “how are you feeling about your scan today ?”, “don’t worry we’ll take care of you”, “let me know if this is painful or uncomfortable”, “is that too much or little” or “how do you feel now” can go a long way in building patients’ trust and providing them exceptional service and experience. Patients at the radiology provider I work for always commend us for how well they’re taken care of and the quality of service we provide from booking their scans to providing them their results, making us one of the leaders in the Australian healthcare industry. Having and maintaining these service standards will also enable radiology technicians to reap the true rewards of making a difference in patients’ lives .

Are you in a clinical role in the healthcare industry ? 
How do you find demonstrating empathy, reassurance and comfort to patients ?
What words and actions do you demonstrate to exemplify these ?

Hi, I'm Shweta

I coach non-native English speaking healthcare professionals how to advance in their career and build better relationships with their patients and colleagues by expressing themselves more articulately and confidently in the English language.

I work closely with healthcare professionals who work with patients regularly. I help them improve their communication skills when interacting with patients and colleagues, teach them how to show up authentically, assertively and articulately in their field of work in order for them to ultimately gain credibility, validation and respect.

If you work in a clinical role in the healthcare industry and would like to learn more about how to better connect and communicate openly with your clients / patients, book a complimentary 30 minute discovery call with me to see how I can best support you.

Shweta Ramkumar - English Language Confidence Coach

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