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Study Reports New Doctors Need to Learn Compassion

Update Date: Oct 24, 2013 01:38 PM EDT
Doctor, patient
50 percent of residents stated that they wanted to quit because of sleep deprivation during specific rotations. (Photo : Flickr/ DIBP Images)

Even though doctors are trained to save lives everyday, a new study is reporting that young doctors tend to be rude. According to this study out of Johns Hopkins University, doctors who are fresh out of medical school have poor bedside manner, which could hinder the relationship they have with their patients. Several studies have found that patients recover better and are generally more satisfied if they like their doctors. In order to improve patient's health, young doctors might need to take an extra class in compassion.

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The research team decided to observe 29 internal medicine interns who just finished medical school for three weeks. The interns were working at the Johns Hopkins Hospital and the University of Maryland Medical Center. The researchers focused on five key communication skills that interns should be using with their patients. Interns should ideally introduce themselves, explain their role during the whole process, touch patients in a comfortable manner, sit down and converse with the patient about concerns and ask open ended questions, such as "How are you feeling today?"

"It's no wonder patients don't feel connected to what we are telling them, because many times we are not doing as much as we could to make that connection," the co-author of the study, Dr. Lauren Block said according to TIME. Block is a former general internal medicine fellow at Johns Hopkins.

The researchers found that some bedside manners were practiced more often than others. The team calculated that the interns touched their patients 65 percent of the time. When it came to open ended questions, the interns asked them 75 percent of the time. However, interns only sat down with their patients nine percent of the time. Furthermore, interns introduced themselves 40 percent of the time and explained their purpose to patients 37 percent of the time. When the researchers calculated how frequent interns performed all five behaviors, they found that interns did it only four percent of the time. These statistics suggest that interns have to work harder in creating a good rapport with their patients.

The study was published in the Journal of Hospital Medicine

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