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How To Go Home On Time For Physicians – Dealing With Challenging Situations

Aug 10, 2023

As a physician, one of the challenges in patient care is when you are facing a difficult situation. For example, there is a discrepancy between the information being conveyed by a physician and the understanding of a patient. Or the patient is receiving a cancer diagnosis unexpectedly. Or the patient has seen multiple specialists and still has not been given a diagnosis.

These situations and other similar scenarios may cause the patients or their families to feel anxious. They may feel frustrated because of what they think about their situation. They may be dissatisfied with the care they perceive. They may lose trust on their physicians.

For physicians, these situations may pose stress, anxiety, anger and frustration. You may want to avoid a particular situation and alter your plan of care. You may feel more stress because this patient is taking up more time than expected.

Although you cannot control the patients’ diagnosis, their outcome, or how they initially react, there are things you as physicians can do to manage the situation and be efficient at the same time. No matter how well you plan ahead of the day, there will always be something unexpected. Sometimes they are things which are unimportant and will not affect your day. Other times, one patient or one event is enough to change the course of your day.

It is best to always expect the unexpected, so when the surprise happens, the level of shock is already decreased because you are somewhat ready for it.

One of the biggest challenges in a doctor-patient relationship is that patients feel they are not heard or they are misunderstood. Active listening is the first step in effective communication with your patients. Pay attention to non-verbal cues. What are the patients telling you on the surface, and what is actually their main worry? Take the time to understand the situation, what their main concerns are. It is more important to fully understand the full situation in the beginning. This will save much time and effort for the long run. Communication is a major key to good and effective doctor-patient relationship.

Show your empathy. That is vital for patients to feel connected with you. One of the main reasons patients leave a practice is that they do not think their doctor is listening to them or is paying attention to how they feel.

Physicians are human beings too. There is no doubt that challenging situations with patient care will have some impact on the physicians’ well-being. Most situations are not personal – they are not directed against you. It is important to establish trust from the patient.

Trust that you are capable to handling the situation. You will take the time needed to do it, yet you are also mindful of the time. You will get to some kind of solution and plan of care. You may have to redirect the patient. If you happen to use an extra 45 minutes to take care of a patient, trust yourself that you can be efficient and take care of your other patients in a timely fashion. Saving one to two minutes with each patient throughout the day adds up.

The more challenging situations you face, the more capable and confident you become in handling such circumstances. It is important to be mindful of your own emotions and avoid letting the negative emotions drive your actions. Your goal is to help the patient the best way you can within your ability. Do not hesitate to ask for help or get supportive services for the patient. You do not have to face the challenging situation alone.

Are you ready to stop feeling stressed and overwhelmed? Are you ready to have more time to do what you want?


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