What’s that old expression? You only get one chance to make a good first impression. As many veteran practitioners will tell you, it’s in the first few minutes of an office visit that patient rapport is made or lost. Below are 6 ways you can create an instant connection and put a patient at ease, ultimately resulting in a more productive visit:

  1. Be Friendly—it may sound obvious but greeting your patient with a smile or a kind word immediately puts him or her at ease and creates an atmosphere of warmth and caring.
  2. Make Eye Contact—looking at the patient instead of your computer screen or chart shows that you are really listening and concerned about the person, not just the problem.
  3. Open With Something General—beginning your exam with some conversation about the weather, traffic or the season (or even something personal if it’s an established patient, “How’s your son doing in hockey?”) will help a patient relax and open up more when it’s time to ask about the health issue that brought them to the office. Starting with the complaint gives the impression that you’re in a hurry and that the patient will be rushed.
  4. Show Your Human Side—as physicians, a common charge leveled against us is, “He thinks he’s God.” Share something personal about you—hobbies, carpool troubles, a story about one of your children—and you will “come down to earth” and build a more authentic bond with your patient.
  5. Sit at Eye Level—believe it or not, your physical position affects your patient’s perception: stand or sit on a stool higher than your patient and you give an appearance of superiority; sit lower than your patient and they will lose confidence in you. Eye level puts you in the ideal position to receive a patient’s input and deliver diagnosis and treatment information.
  6. Be a Good Listener—acknowledge what the patient is saying. Do not allow your focus to drift. If your patient knows you are listening and truly feels heard, you’ll have paved the way for a productive visit, a positive long-term patient relationship and hopefully a few good referrals as well.

At The Institute for Podiatric Development (IPED), connecting veteran practitioners and those just starting out in the field is one of our missions. By sharing experiences, our entire field grows stronger. To learn more about becoming a member of IPED, contact Executive Director, Ruth Ann Donahue at:  978-296-7634.

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