Communication skills in healthcare: Natalie May
Communication is something that we all do every day. However, communicating in healthcare isn’t the same as communicating in other areas of our lives.
The nature of what we talk about is difficult, particularly when we are delivering bad news. This is amplified even further when communicating with children in medicine.
How do we make their experience as enjoyable as possible, whilst communicating effectively with their families?
One such way is to acknowledge the role of culture in communication. Culture underpins the way in which we give and receive information in all circumstances. It informs the way we think about things and in many cases, our reactions.
We could provide two families with exactly the same diagnosis and information but they could respond in completely different ways. Families will react to information within the cultural framework for which they operate.
We may perceive a sprained ankle as a minor injury, however for one family it could mean an inability to participate in sports which is a crucial element of their day to day lives.
As healthcare practitioners, we should acknowledge that we won’t change people’s way of thinking by arguing with them. We need to recognise the role that culture is playing, be humble, be understanding and be flexible.
Furthermore, studies show that children often understand more than we anticipate. So, it is our job to ensure that we are communicating in the best way possible.
Natalie’s advice? Be prepared, manage expectations and provide explanation.
From DAS SMACC, Natalie May shares her tips for good communication skills in healthcare.
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Natalie trained in Emergency Medicine and subspecialty Paediatric EM in the UK, where she worked for just over a year as a consultant before moving to Sydney where she now works as locally as a Specialist in Emergency Medicine, as a Specialist in Prehospital and Retrieval Medicine with Sydney HEMS and occasionally in Neonatal and Pediatric Transport (NETS).
She has a long-held interest in medical education and holds a postgraduate certificate in workplace-based medical education. Natalie is a proud contributor to the St. Emlyn’s blog and podcast.