Medical students to take exams in bedside manner at the University of Southern Denmark

They will be schooled on effective communication skills

Medical students at the University of Southern Denmark will now be schooled in their bedside manner.

DR reports that poor communication between patients and doctors is a major problem in the Danish healthcare system. Students, who will be tested on the subject, will work on improving their communication skills and learn to deal with patients in a compassionate manner.

Patients must be heard 
Rasmus Kreipke, a medical student at the university, believes it is imperative for patients to feel like they’re being heard and understood.

“You’re treating the patients, but at the same time you have to be human. It’s not just about their health – they must also feel like they’re being heard,” he said.

The students are made to practise their skills on actors who sign on as ‘patients’. The exercises involve acting out scenarios with the ‘patients’, who report symptoms and display characteristic emotions such as fear and anxiety. The medical students are then coached on how to deal with them in the best possible way.

Too little focus on communication 
Mette Herly, also from the university, believes too little focus is paid on how doctors actually communicate important and sensitive information to patients.

“There is a tendency to focus completely on the treatment. But there is not so much focus paid to how we talk to patients. We’ve now found out how important communication is,” she told DR.

She also explained that the university has decided to test students on the subject to make sure they pay attention to it.

“It’s a matter of getting it formalised. The fact that there is an examination in the subject means that there will be a focus on it.”