Tuesday, 1 April 2008


Shamelessly nicking more themes from more inventive folks blogs, I happily found Hospital Wallpaper's medical student blog after she commented below. She wrote about communication skills and wondered :
"Can communications skills be learnt or are they inherent in a person's character?"

I don't think it's that black or white a nature/nurture thing. If someone's inherently good at it, that's great. But I know medics with a brain the size of Saturn who really are great at diagnosis and therapy but were bad communicators who have improved lots. Experience in medicine, maturity, training can help.

What helps me improve more than anything is what Hospital Wallpaper did. She sat in and saw a clinician communicate. You learn what they do well, and nick that, and what they could do better, so learn to do it differently.

Every week I go on joint visits with nursing colleagues, every week I'm aware of little things they do better than I do, that I nick in my approach to consultations.


Hospital Wallpaper said...

Thanks for the "shout-out"!

The MSILF said...

Yes. It was very hard for me at first, and I worked very hard to improve, and now I'm not bad at all.

As one professor said once, "I don't care how big of bastards you are, if you are smart enough to pass medical skool, you are smart enough to figure out how to at least fake being a decent person."

Disillusioned said...

Love the quote, mslif.

Mind you, I have met some psychiatrists in my time who obviously haven't learnt to fake it!

Xavier Emmanuelle said...

I think it's true as well. I learn all kinds of tricks from watching others communicate masterfully.

I met someone who could talk to terrified and crying children to make them feel like they are autonomous in the situation, build trust between the child and the clinician, and calm the child right down. It was wonderful, and I hope to one day be just like her.