Bedside Medicine Training Helps Both New and Established Physicians

Dr. Junaid Zaman demonstrates a bedside exam technique to colleagues

A recent blog post on the Daily Nurse highlights the different ways nursing students, medical students and residents are being taught good bedside manner “right alongside teaching CPR and how to use stethoscopes.” This training, says the Daily Nurse post, builds clinicians’ communications skills and offers real-life experience. Some programs are incorporating unique approaches, like humor and improv. Others are utilizing “virtual visit”-like technology not only to help students gain experience and but also develop their “webside manner,” a skill set that’s evolving with the emergence of telemedicine.

The effort – which often focuses as much on empathy as it does physical exam skills – matters to the experiences of both patients and their providers. As we know, an emphasis on bedside medicine can prevent physician burnout by reducing “compassion fatigue.” And so Stanford Medicine 25 stresses the importance of these skills not only for medical students but also for their teachers, mentors and others already practicing medicine. As the author of the Daily Nurse post writes, “How do medical professionals address the issue of those well-established nurses and physicians who didn’t get their degree at a time when bedside manner was so strongly emphasized? It all comes down to continued learning.”

Citing a 2009 Emory University study that determined “medical professionals who [had] been working in the field for years could be re-inspired to be more humanistic,” the Daily Nurse believes continuing education programs do hold promise. We think so, too, of course. As we teach physical exam skills not only to our own faculty, residents and students but also to many educators from around the world (see our annual symposium), we see firsthand how interactions at the bedside help clinicians practice better medicine.

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