Article By Maj. Dr. Carl Nutsugah
ompassion is defined as the sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it. Healthcare is the effort made to maintain or restore physical, mental, or emotional well-being, especially by trained and licensed professionals.
Compassionate healthcare is a critical part of navigating a complex healthcare system. We at Vivahealth strongly believe that good health is not only about providing the best possible care for our patients but also about creating a compassionate environment where patients feel supported and understood.
There are many reasons why compassion is important in healthcare. Here are a few:
- Compassionate care helps patients feel understood and supported.
- It builds trust and communication between patients and healthcare professionals.
- It reduces the emotional burden on patients.
- It promotes positive patient outcomes.
- It helps healthcare professionals to be more effective and efficient.
What Does Compassion Look Like in Healthcare?
There are concrete examples of what compassion looks like in practice. Below are three to keep in mind as a provider and something to look for as a patient.
Being an active listener
As a student, you can be an excellent notetaker. But are you actually listening? Are you retaining the information being taught? People want to feel heard. Understanding how you tend to communicate and listen can make difference in many facets of your everyday life. As a healthcare provider, having that level of self-awareness can go a long way in developing this skill which can help you create good and lasting impressions with patients. Paying attention, showing that you’re listening, providing feedback, deferring judgment, and responding appropriately are key steps to becoming a more active listener.
Providing emotional support
In healthcare, the desire to “fix” a patient’s problem may come naturally. While important, fixing isn’t always the first answer. Think about times when you were struggling with a personal dilemma. Did you always want a solution to the problem, or rather support in how that problem was making you feel? Being there for a patient emotionally and showing your compassion can foster a positive relationship between the patient and the organization as a whole, which is what you represent when working at a facility. In addition, practicing this in your personal life with family and friends can be a good way for you to develop this skill. With time, this can become a more natural response that can be incorporated it into the role of a healthcare provider.
Answering patient questions
Ultimately, patients turn to healthcare providers for solutions. Though active listening and emotional support serve their own key functions, being able to answer a patient’s question — if it is your place to do so — is crucial. If you are providing direct care to a patient, whether that be scheduling, billing, or something more hands-on, you are cultivating a customer experience. But when it comes to healthcare, there are certain topics such as medications, treatments, etc. that you may not always have the answer to or may not be at liberty to answer for a patient. Being transparent about this and directing them to someone who can provide answers is just as valuable.
Conclusion: By understanding the importance of compassionate care, healthcare professionals can effectively provide care for their patients. By outlining how compassionate healthcare can help you navigate a complex system, we hope that you will consider incorporating compassionate care into your practice. Thank you for reading!