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Skills Station By Matthew Putts, BA, EMT-B 10 Tips for a Better Interview Learn some simple ways to improve your communication with patients The information gained while interviewing patients and 4. Move to the patient’s ﬁeld of vision bystanders is of the highest value, yet very little time is spent When possible, approach a patient from a direction where he training in this area. As ED personnel do not have the beneﬁt of will be able to easily see you. For those with limited mobility, seeing the patient prior to arrival at the hospital, it falls on the make sure to position yourself in a way that is comfortable for the shoulders of prehospital providers to obtain any necessary ﬁrsthand patient to communicate with you. For example, if your patient is information from the ﬁeld. In cases where a patient’s mental status a wheelchair user, standing directly in front of him and perhaps deteriorates, EMTs may be the only medical providers in a position crouching will make it easier for him to communicate with you. to gain valuable information from the patient. While experienced Some individuals with hearing impairments will understand you EMTs know what questions to ask, many providers could beneﬁt more easily if you position yourself so they can see your mouth as from learning how to more effectively communicate with those they you speak. Looking down directs your voice away from the patient serve. The following 10 tips can be incorporated by providers with and may be perceived as a lack of attention to what the patient any level of experience on almost any run. is saying. 1. Establish rapport 5. Consider how you look In a typical healthcare situation, a patient interacts with a doctor Truly good communicators say as much with their physical pres- “eyes your Do or nurse in a controlled setting with ofﬁce staff they have known for years. Patients share private information with them based on trust that has developed over time and understanding that these ence as with actual speech. It is easier to gain more information if the way you present yourself invites the patient to communicate with you. Crossing your arms, impatiently tapping your foot, or not convey individuals have their best interest in mind. In the prehospital directly facing the patient may convey that you are not particularly environment, patients are expected to entrust their physical well- interested in the patient or what he has to say. The counseling ﬁeld interest being and private medical information to those they have never met uses the acronym SOLER as a reminder to sit squarely, have an before, and to do so merely seconds into the patient-provider rela- open posture, lean forward, make eye contact and relax.2 While in what tionship. While it is sometimes important to gain information very prehospital providers do not have the same luxuries of time, the your quickly, in many cases you can spend a minute or two getting to basics remain the same. Whenever possible, it helps to face know your patient and the situation. Rapport is most easily estab- patients, make eye contact when speaking with them, and show patient is lished by providers who are conﬁdent and professional, and who interest in them and their presenting problem. There is evidence take the time to communicate with their patients.1 that people
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