Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Importance of Communication in Medicine

Medicine is a field where strong communication can be key, not only in adapting well to and developing strong bonds with other individuals, but in dealing with the fragile balance that separates life and death itself. While most people can see the importance of communication skills when dealing with medicine, many do not see the underlying criticality - a strong ability to communicate with individuals from all walks of life. From surgeons to therapists, medicine is a universal system that deals with the health and well-being of other individuals, requiring a strong, equal balance of both scientific and social intelligence.
                Imagine a world where communication skills were not considered mandatory among medical professionals. Could an average individual really open-up to someone impersonal and seemingly uninterested with the issues at hand? MD Debra Roter, in her research paper entitled The effects of a Continuing Medical Education Programme in Interpersonal Communication Skills on Doctor Practice and Patient Satisfaction in Trinidad and Tobago (ME), says that this just isn’t the case. Patients need a certain level of comfort and security when being asked to reveal intimate details (ME, 1998). This is exactly the situation in which doctors place themselves, as all medical professionals must first make strong connections with their patients in order to, less reluctantly, receive the vital information that only they are capable of relaying.
                While all medical professionals who deal with patients on a regular basis are subject to the aforementioned forms of communication, many other fields of medicine rely on a different, more serious and delicate form of communication. Surgery is truly a risky procedure, and the surgeons who handle these instances are often some of the hardest-working individuals in the business. However, not every opportunity for a better tomorrow has a happy ending, and, as a result, emotions often run high in the hospital waiting rooms. It takes a certain expertise in communication to handle situations with bad news, especially when “bad news” is a horrendous understatement. Effectively dealing with the fragile psychological aspects of medicine is, as I can only imagine, one of the most difficult methods of communication in the field of medicine.
                Of course, not all forms of communication within the field of medicine constitute this level or morbidity, but all communication is important. Pharmaceutical companies must utilize near-perfect levels of communication in order to fully relay to their audience the importance of their medications, as well as the usage and physiological effects their drugs contain. While market value and mercantile aspects of medicine is obviously important to manufacturers, says Nature Medicine Magazine (NM), the emphasis on the drug’s initial purpose must not be skewed. Medicine, designed for the betterment of our tomorrow, can actually prove detrimental when misused. Therefore the medicine’s side-effects, usage, dosage and ingredients must be communicated to the intended audience clearly, efficiently and effectively (NM, 2009).
                As you can and should already have been able to clearly see, communication skills in the field of Medicine are one of the most important aspects of the career. Without an advanced ability to communicate with individuals, many of the more crucial aspects of external medicine would be all but impossible to achieve, and would severely inhibit medical professionals from providing an acceptable level of patient care. The idea of furtherance in the quality of patient-physician communication is an idea that has long since been looked at by medical universities across the nation, and certainly aids in exemplifying the critical importance of communication in the field of medicine.

Works Cited
Nature Medicine Magazine (2009). A Really Serious Conflict.  Volume 15, Number 5, May 2009
Roter, Debra, (1998). The effects of a continuing medical education programme in interpersonal
communication skills on doctor practice and patient satisfaction in Trinidad and Tobago. Medical Education (ME), Volume 32, 181-189, Blackwell Science Ltd. 1998

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