Objectives — Interpersonal Skills

History Physical Exam Data Synthesis Knowledge Management Skills Interpersonal Skills

Explanation: Working with patients: You must have a developmentally appropriate and empathetic approach.

Working with families: By virtue of the field, you have to deal with the family, because in many cases, they are your primary source of information about the patient. In pediatrics, you should think about the parents as your patients as well as the children. Learning to work with the patient's family is a skill that you will need to do well no matter what specialty you go into. Even though you frequently get the signal that dealing with families is not important because you might never have contact with family members, it is one of the most important skills for a clinician to master. Being a good doctor and relating to families is not just about being a nice guy. There are skills besides kindness and compassion which are involved in having a successful relationship with the patient and his/her family. The relationship is set up to fail especially since the doctor's approach is generally rational and ordered, but parents are very rarely rational when it comes to the health of their children. The clinician's goal is to get the patient, family, and doctor all on the same page about the illness, diagnostic tests, and therapy. If a conflict arises, make a note about it as described below.

Working as a member of the team: You must take control of your own experience. That means asking the attendings, residents, and interns to teach you things so that you can be a dependable member of the team. If you are not being given enough responsibility, negotiate with the members of the team, don't sulk or get mad. Being a dependable member of the team means calling if you are going to be late and communicating effectively with the other members of the team. You also have to communicate effectively with the nurses and recognize their expertise in order to succeed.

A word on conflict: Conflicts will inevitably arise based on differing expectations of your role as a member of the team. Keep a list of the conflicts that you have experienced during the rotation and you will write a page about one of those conflicts by the fourth week of the rotation.



Ask attendings, mentors, residents, and interns to observe you and give feedback when you provide information to patients and families. This feedback will help improve your ability to work effectively with patients and families.

Ask for feedback from your peers.

Clear communication (both written and spoken) with members of the medical team will help avoid conflict between members of the team.

If you are unhappy with your role, negotiate effectively with the housestaff (ex: without complaints or putting others on the spot).

Discuss patient and family relationships with attendings and house staff.



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