Four Crucial Tips for Developing Great Bedside Manner: A Guide From Gregory Duhon, MD

Bedside manner has always been crucial to physicians. But over the last few years, it has grown in importance. According to Dr. Gregory Duhon, MD, this rise has coincided with the emergence of studies that show taking a patient-centered approach to care results in better outcomes.

By focusing on the emotional, social, mental, health, spiritual, and even financial needs of individual patients, physicians can better help achieve desired outcomes.

That's why cultivating an exceptional bedside manner is so important—it empowers healthcare professionals to forge stronger connections with patients, improves communication, and enhances patient satisfaction and overall well-being.

Below are four crucial tips for developing a great bedside manner.

1. Establish Solid Communication

The first key to cultivating a great bedside manner? Establishing solid communication with your patients. You must be able to effectively communicate with your patients. That way, they will better understand what you are saying and can make informed decisions about their care.

In this regard, physicians must communicate in a way that patients can understand—breaking down complicated medical terms into layman's terms, for instance. As Dr. Gregory Duhon says, when you can accomplish this, you will have established trust with your patients.

This aspect of bedside manner is crucial because it encourages patients to have honest discussions with you, which naturally results in better care.

2. Take Your Time

People want to feel as though they are your only patient, even if they know they're not. They want to feel safe, heard, and understood.

“Physicians need to take their time when they are interacting with patients,” says Dr. Gregory Duhon. “They must do everything they can to fully explain what’s going on, and they must listen to everything the patient has to say.”

One great way to show you have set aside enough time for your patients is to sit down when you talk to them. When you do this, it sends the message that you're there for a conversation and not in a hurry to rush off to the next patient.

3. Develop Active Listening Skills

Active listening is one of the most important aspects of communication. By paying attention to your patients, you’re showing that you care about what they're saying.

“Give them your undivided attention,” says Dr. Gregory Duhon. “Try not to take too many notes when they're talking. Instead, focus on establishing eye contact and looking directly at them when they speak.”

Not only does this send a positive message to them, but it also allows you to pick up on nonverbal communication cues such as winces or other body language. This can go a long way in helping you provide the best care for your patients.

4. Practice Empathy

Perhaps the strongest aspect of bedside manner is practicing empathy, according to Dr. Gregory Duhon, MD. You want to make sure that you are validating every concern your patient has, even if it sounds outlandish from a medical standpoint.

Try to put yourself in their shoes. Show them that you are as concerned about their wellness as they are.

Sometimes, you may have to deliver bad news. When you must have these difficult conversations, the outcome will often be much better if you have practiced empathy and developed a great bedside manner.

About Dr. Gregory Duhon, MD
Dr. Gregory Duhon, MD, is an Internal Medicine Physician and Hospitalist with acumen in ICU, emergency room, and crisis/pandemic management. Known for prioritizing compassionate patient care, Dr. Duhon has donated volunteer time to provide medical care to flood victims and those affected by opioid addiction. Dr. Duhon is training for the Ironman and enjoys travel, cooking, and passion fruit propagation.