Compassion, understanding and patience - the sometimes unseen true art of excellent patient engagement

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All too often because we can’t see things for ourselves, with our own eyes, we can’t get a real sense of the impact that healthcare colleagues have on the lives of their patients. We can’t see the effect that their compassion, understanding and patience has on patients and their families each and every day.

In fact, it is only when the tables are turned and we find ourselves as the patient, that we really get to understand the true art of clinical engagement. The true art of trying to make patients feel at ease, even though there is a degree of uncertainty surrounding a medical condition. The true art of sympathetically and painstakingly explaining situations and procedures, to try and reassure and calm their nerves. The true art of playing along with patients and joining in conversations as they proceed to talk about anything other than what is going on around them, as they are being operated upon.

Yes I have worked within the healthcare industry now for over 14 years, with front line staff and clinicians right through to the Executive teams and Boards, however it is only when I have recently been in the ‘patient’s seat’ a couple of times over the past month that I have genuinely been reminded of what it takes to be a part of a great clinical team.

Yes care and compassion are a couple of the most important corporate pillars of effective healthcare that need to exist within a healthcare setting. And yes they are tried and tested in quality checks such as the Care Quality Commission standards. However, only when you experience these skills first hand do you really get a sense of the true artistry at work when it is done well.

We all know that excellent clinical skills are essential to achieve excellent medical results, and that is why I chose the particular consultant and medical team for my procedures. But that is only half of the story. The other half is the emotional care that is bestowed upon patients during their patient journey. And to a large extent that cannot be taught. Yes it can be nurtured and enhanced with regular training, but for the most part it is a natural gift and something that the ‘best fitting’ medical people are born with.

We all know that the healthcare system is under enormous pressure at the moment which has a profound effect on the moral and effectiveness of clinical staff. However it is great to see that even in the face of adversity, the true art of patient engagement is still being used in our healthcare settings each and every day. So “Thank you” from one of your many patients.