Program teaches med students bedside manner


What looks like a normal check-up is actually a simulation between a med student and an actor. Heather Walker runs the program aimed at teaching medical students better bedside manner.

"Are they compassionate? Are they looking at patient satisfaction?" Walker said.

Students are graded on their interaction by faculty and the patient-actor.

"Communication is important because you have to have the patient build trust in you and have them be comfortable enough to sometimes share really personal things that you as a physician need to know in order to help them," said Amanuel Yohannes, a medical student at Creighton University.

Research shows patients who feel their doctor has a good bedside manner are more compliant with their treatment regimen and are less likely to experience complications. A recent study from Michigan State University shows trust and empathy associated with a positive physician-patient encounter actually changes the brain's response to stress and increases pain tolerance.

"It's not just trying to figure out what's going on with the patient, but they also have to have empathy for the patient," Walker said.

Good bedside manner could also help doctors avoid malpractice lawsuits. Studies show patients are less likely to sue doctors they feel care about them, even if they made a medical mistake.

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