Health Beat: Improving bedside manner

Compassion in Healthcare

We've all had a doctor with poor bedside manner, and it doesn't make you feel much better. New research shows that a doctor with good beside manner can actually better help their patients. Now, there's a new program helping future doctors, and in turn, helping patients.

What looks like a normal checkup at Creighton University Medical Center-Saint Joseph Hospital in Nebraska is actually a simulation between a medical student and an actor. The program is aimed at teaching medical students better bedside manner.

"Are they compassionate? Are they, you know, looking at patient satisfaction?" asked Heather Walker, simulation manager.

"Communication is important because you have to have the patient build trust in you and have them be comfortable enough to sometimes share really personal things that you as a physician need to know in order to help them," said Amanuel Yohannes, a medical student at Creighton University.

Students are graded on their interactions.

"You're not going to come back to somebody if they're rude, or if they're unfeeling, or uncaring or treating you not like a human being," said Michele Richmond, an actress working with the class.

Research shows patients who feel their doctor has a good bedside manner are more compliant. Another recent study from Michigan State University shows trust and empathy associated with a positive physician encounter actually changes the brain's response to stress and increases pain tolerance.

"It's not just trying to figure out what's going on with the patient, but they also have to feel, you know, they have to have empathy for the patient," said Walker,

Studies also show patients are less likely to sue doctors they feel care about them, even if they made a medical mistake.

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