The decision to pursue a career in healthcare is typically driven by a person’s desire to help others. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that a strong sense of empathy is a key trait within the industry. Attention to detail, respect and excellent communication skills are also common characteristics among successful medical professionals.

When managing day-to-day details of the job, some of the characteristics which contribute to their success may, understandably, become lost. This is especially true when working in a busy surgical environment where much of the focus is on the details surrounding a case.

Surgeons, anesthesiologists and other members of a medical team are diligent in their communication efforts leading up to a surgical procedure. Sharing details with the patient and their loved ones including what to expect before, during and after a procedure are common practices. However in the midst of a surgery it is not unusual for communication to breakdown. When focusing on the details of a procedure, a patient’s loved ones who are out of sight in the waiting room often become out of mind. And this is where the feeling of helplessness can quickly become overwhelming for those waiting for news of their loved one.

When it comes to communication, it’s about the words that are said, not necessarily who says them. Communication doesn’t have to come directly from the anesthesiologist or surgeon. A nurse or even a secretary relaying a message from the doctor can be enough. Or, at the very least, a text message or even a simple “thumbs up” to show all is going well. Communication can comfort and reassure family and loved ones who are feeling helpless and afraid.

Empathy and compassion directed toward patients have become synonymous with the profession. Regardless of day-to-day details within a busy surgical environment, empathy and compassion can easily be extended to those waiting. Just a few words can, make a stressful, emotional experience a little less so for everyone involved.


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