As a resident physician, I take the topic of education very seriously, especially when it comes to my patients. This stems from the fact that growing up during my doctor’s appointments I was very curious about what was going on. From my pediatrician to my own gynecologist, I would also ask regarding the procedures, tests, and medications ordered.
Asking my patients if they are aware of why we do certain examinations or tests, and what their understanding is of their diagnosis is not only helping them feel empowered regarding their health but also allows for the establishment of a healthy physician/patient relationship. What I have found interesting is that many of my patients have not always been given these opportunities throughout their lives and are thankful when we provide important information regarding their health. So then how can we provide such education?
What I have found helpful is utilizing photos, models, and printed information to explain medical terminology in a way that is helpful to my patient’s understanding. However, these teaching moments are difficult to implement during virtual visits when we are not in-person with outpatients to utilize such tools. There are various online platforms that allow for screen-sharing so that we can still draw and use photos but those platforms are hard to find in underserved community clinics. Most of the times we find ourselves calling our patients which makes education implementation especially difficult. Even with such challenges I find myself describing pathology and using my patient-friendly words.
I think that as healthcare providers we should always think of ways that we can help our patients become empowered, especially by providing educational sessions that help patients understand their health conditions more clearly. These habits can be formulated early on through medical school curriculum and also residency training so that physicians are well equipped once entering the working profession.
What are some ways that you have helped empower your patients through education? Comment down below!