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Intentional Opportunities in Direct Care – Maximizing the Power to Listen

Grace Torres Hodges, DPM, MBA shares that one of the greatest tools that a physician has to help their patient is the ability to listen.

April 13, 2023

“There’s a lot of difference between listening and hearing.” ― G.K. Chesterton

Do you ever think about that in the context of an office visit to the doctor? There is a difference. Listening has an active component to it whereas hearing has a passive component to it. When you listen, you have to interpret, discern and choose the next step whereas when you hear, your auditory senses are being stimulated and responding in a physical manner within the inner ear.

 

I love it when I have a patient come in and tell me, “Dr. Grace, thank you! I can’t tell you how many years I have been dealing with this and when I followed what you said, it’s finally beginning to feel better!”

But what did I do? Why couldn’t others whom they may have mentioned their issue to not get to this point?

My approach was straightforward. When I met them, they told me what was going on.

I asked some additional follow-up questions based on what they told me.

From there, I created and advised them of a treatment plan.

As I tell my patients, “I just guided YOU! I didn’t do anything – you told me what was going on!”

Think about it, it’s true! I didn’t do anything; my patient did.

I can’t MAKE my patients do anything, but one thing that I can do is when someone comes in to see me is to take the time to LISTEN.

As I teach medical students and residents, I remind them that listening is one of the most valuable tools you have as a clinician.

 

“I can’t MAKE my patients do anything, but one thing that I can do is when someone comes in to see me is to take the time to LISTEN.”

 

Take the time to get a good history.

People know their bodies, and when you ask them what’s going on, they are coming to you because something is not feeling well or not functioning like it should.

Give them time to talk, give them time to explain, but most importantly, LISTEN to them!

 

As I teach medical students and residents, I remind them that listening is one of the most valuable tools you have as a clinician. Share on X

 

However, in today’s world of medicine, oftentimes office visits are rushed and patients are run through doctor’s schedules in mass numbers. That usually means 5-7 minute encounters. How can you take a patient history in that amount of time. For that matter, how can a patient give you their history in that amount of time to start with?

One of the many reasons that I practice in direct care is because I am not rushed and can give my patients the opportunity to tell their story.

I am also afforded the time that allows me the ability to listen to them. Yes, I went to medical school and finished residency to take what they say, analyze and formulate a solution to approach the problem, but none of that happens if I don’t get their story first!

It was a student of Socrates, Zino of Citium who is quoted as saying “We have two ears and one mouth, so we should listen more than we say.”

One of the greatest tools that a physician has to help their patient is the ability to Listen. Is your doctor able to practice in a way that they can do that?

#directcaremindset

All opinions published on SomeDocs-Mag are the author’s and do not reflect the official position of SoMeDocs, its staff, editors. SoMeDocs is a magazine built with the safety of free expression and diverse perspectives in mind. For more information, or to submit your own opinion, please see our submission guidelines or email opmed@doximity.com. Do you have a compelling personal story you’d like to see published on SoMeDocs? Find out what we’re looking for here and submit your writing, or send us a pitch.

All opinions published on SomeDocs-Mag are the author’s and do not reflect the official position of SoMeDocs, its staff, editors. SoMeDocs is a magazine built with the safety of free expression and diverse perspectives in mind. Do you have a compelling personal story you’d like to see published on SoMeDocs? Submit your own article now here.

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