“We judge others by their behavior. We judge ourselves by our intentions.” —Unknown
How often do we become frustrated with our patients? They are non-compliant, late for their appointments, lazy, grouchy, etc…. It may be good for us to consider the old Cherokee saying, “Walk a mile in my moccasins, and you will know my journey.”
In order to provide excellent customer service and to truly serve our patients, we must be able to empathize with them. Webster’s defines empathy as the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another.
Most of our patients face a multitude of physical ailments (according to the ACA more than 60 percent of non-traumatic lower-extremity amputations occur among diabetics). That means the majority of our patients may be dealing with the challenges associated with diabetes. Additionally, many of them may have financial challenges, family issues, and psychosocial problems. All of this can have a significant impact on their behavior.
As a clinician, it is imperative that you treat the whole person. You cannot view each patient as simply a “BK,” “AK,” “bilateral BK,” etc. You must take into consideration all aspects of the patient’s situation and how these things affect them.
This means you must empathize, be patient, take time to learn their story, and learn what is affecting them. A simple way to do this is to focus on the person in front of you. Forget about your last patient, your next patient, the phone calls that need returned, etc., and focus on the most important person in the room. Your patient.
You will be amazed at the impact this will have on you and your patients. Be intentional about taking time with each person to learn more about them and their life.