The Art of Listening
By: Author: Jessica Hansen | Mar 16, 2017 10:00 AM
“ Just shut up for the first minute. Listen and focus intently. Let the patient talk.” That was the advice Danielle Ofri, MD, PhD, shared during her recent visit to the University of Utah School of Medicine (read the full interview here). Ofri addressed practitioners and alumni at this year’s Benning Public Lecture in Medicine. Drawing on the research and interviews in her newest book, “What Patients Say, What Doctors Hear,” she illustrated how refocusing conversations between doctors and their patients can lead to better health.
Ofri also conducted an intimate Q&A session with first- and second-year medical students, encouraging them to think about developing these skills early in their training. First-year student Jessica Hansen shares how this experience has influenced her and how she plans to practice in the future.
Guest Blog by Jessica Hansen:
So much of medical school is learning by emulation without fully understanding why we do the things we do. As we learn the mechanics of taking patient histories, we run the risk of seeing people as their medical condition – and we forget to listen. It was reassuring to have Dr. Danielle Ofri, an expert in the art of listening, remind us we are not alone in this struggle. As med students and doctors, the pressure to move quickly is high. It can often be more challenging to pause and let individuals tell their history in a way that makes sense to them, instead of in the order we write their HPI [History of Present Illness].
I was impressed by Dr. Ofri’s excellent command of humor and humility. Before meeting Dr. Ofri, I didn’t think that humor had a place in medicine. As providers, we use humor to deal with the stress of our daily work, but the risk in humor is the tendency to dehumanize or reduce our patients to cases and findings. Dr. Ofri demonstrated the benefits of turning the humor back on ourselves. By poking fun at our own mistakes and imperfections, we can make ourselves more human to our patients and find a place for humor – leading to stronger relationships with our patients and teams at the same time.
Perhaps the most important part about the Q&A with Dr. Ofri was seeing a role model in action. I was inspired by the meaningful life and practice Dr. Ofri has created. It’s helpful to see that becoming a physician doesn’t necessitate giving up other enjoyable parts of life. She purposefully spends her time focusing on her greatest passions – practicing medicine, writing, and spending time with her family. Dr. Ofri reminded me of the importance of engaging in creative and reflective activities. I aspire to connect my personal and professional life, as she has, to find more enjoyment and meaningful work in everything that I do.comments powered by Disqus