Why We Should Listen: Patient Satisfaction, Burnout, and Ethical Medicine
Two of the most common concerns in contemporary medicine are patient satisfaction and physician burnout. Both patients and physicians have a sense that something important is missing in the practice of good medicine, and no one is happy about this.
There are aspects of the medical system that cannot be changed, at least in the short term. Nevertheless, we can approach the day-to-day practice of medicine in a way that recovers some of what has been lost, even if the system as a whole does not improve. A beginning may be made by rethinking the role of imagination and storytelling in the patient-doctor encounter. This presentation will argue that mindful listening is at the heart of what is meant by “the ethical practice of medicine.”
Drawing on his experience as a pediatric oncologist, Dr. Raymond Barfield will argue that a couple of minutes spent listening to a patient with genuine curiosity, mindful attention, and imaginative reach leads to better decision making, fewer unnecessary tests, greater patient satisfaction, and a deepening of the physician’s own sense of vocation. He will also argue that it is simply false, in most instances, that listening in this way takes too much time. Indeed, it can actually save time, because often patients will give the physician clues in the course of telling their stories that lead to more efficient, effective, and ethically sound medical practice.