Most doctors eventually find a style that suits them. Whether it's building immediate rapport, guiding the patient to the best decision or leading the team, the approach is key. @sally @AlexandraLouise @ouizoid what are yours?
  1. Lay out all the options before making a recommendation.
    Medicine is no longer paternalistic (doctors only telling patients what they think is needed and nothing else). Thank goodness! I like to lay out ALL the options before giving my recommendation because I know they will just go home, google stuff, and then possibly be misled. I'd rather review all the risks and benefits myself. It makes my visits much longer, but I think the patients appreciate it.
  2. Start with the benefits of the treatment, then talk about the risks.
    For some reason, doctors have been taught to write they "discussed the risks and benefits" of the treatment. But in my experience, starting off with the risk of hemorrhage or dying will scare many patients away from what they really need. So, I like to start with the benefits, address the risks and the low likelihood of said risks, then reassure the patient that there is an experienced team of doctors taking care of her. Also, the more confident you sound, the better. Practice that spiel!
  3. Don't jinx yourself.
    Doctors can be just as superstitious as a pro baseball player. Never say it's a quiet night. You're just asking for a bus load of patients rolling into triage. I also never tell a patient "everything will be okay" anymore. I said that once to a very sweet grandmother with ovarian cancer when she started crying on the gurney ride to the OR. She died of an unexpected post-op pulmonary embolism and I cried for 20 minutes in the stairwell outside the ICU. Never again.
  4. Be generous with compliments!
    This isn't hard for me. I like connecting with patients on a social level, too. My patients usually have a cute baby, outfit, handbag, manicure, tattoo or hair cut that I notice when I walk in the exam room. Who doesn't love a compliment?
  5. Acknowledge good work more than you give constructive criticism.
    When in doubt--give the compliment sandwich! When I love how a resident placed a certain stitch or how the nurse was proactive, I let them know. They'll be more likely to keep doing it! Inundating people with all the things they did wrong just wears them down. They become less confident and slower because they second guess themselves. That being said, I still have certain standards I expect to be met.