Despite enormous advances in the science of medicine, the interpersonal aspects of care remain vital to patient healing. To foster more consistent practice of the art of medicine, adopt these seven behaviors:
1. Before entering the exam room, take a moment to focus on how you’re feeling, whom you’re about to see, and what you need to accomplish.
2. Establish a connection with the patient, perhaps through a short nonmedical conversation.
3. Consider how the patient's illness or suffering is affecting him or her personally.
4. Communicate with authenticity, acceptance, and understanding even when you must confront a patient’s unhealthy behavior.
5. Use the power of touch.
6. Laugh a little with your patients; don’t be so serious that you miss the humor around you.
7. Express empathy with statements such as “That must be frustrating” or “That must be a real struggle for you.”
Adapted from “The Art of Medicine: Seven Skills That Promote Mastery.”
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