Today i opened a very happy email telling me that I was accepted to do a regional rotation at the only hospital I applied to next year! That means no filling out a lottery or commuting everywhere and one less thing to worry about! phew, glad that’s done.
Today I also had a patient encounter practical where I had to do a history on 2 patients and they provide feedback after. The first one kind of threw me off because she presented with a chief complaint of “trying to get pregnant for the last 2 years but was unsuccessful”. I’m always used to doing histories for pain complaints or med refills so when she said that I took a few minutes to come up with questions to ask her. At the end when she asked me how I thought the encounter went I told her I didn’t think it was my best, because I was hesitating to come up with questions to ask her. To my surprise she felt totally opposite. She told me she felt super comfortable talking to me, that I was friendly and empathetic and even wrote “excellent” on my eval sheet. I was pretty shocked but told her that I was glad I came off that way in the encounter. I realized after that patients judge you not necessarily on how good your clinical skills are, but almost completely and immediately on your bedside manner. They can’t tell if you’re ordering the right tests or if your differential was long enough. But they can tell if you smile at them when you walk in, if you show empathy when they’re describing their symptoms, when you take time to explain what you know to them. And I’ve noticed that in most of my patient encounters I’ve gotten feedback that I show a lot of empathy and that in itself can carry you a long way with your patients. For me, I think empathy that’s always come easily to me. I cry at the tiniest things. I love hearing about peoples’ feelings. It’s almost as if I absorb all of those feelings within me and that how I connect with people. It’s actually a burden sometimes. But sometimes it’s really helpful because even though I know these people in our encounters are actors, I genuinely react as if they were going through what they’re telling me. And as a patient myself, I often wish that my doctors would spend a little more time asking me questions about how I feel (about getting procedures or any stresses in my life). I hope when I have my own patients I’ll remember this and not get blindsided by $$ and a full waiting room.