So, What is Bedside Manner?


Dr. Jones goes to the nursing home for his monthly rounds. He sees Joe and asks
him, “Joe, how much is three times three?” Joe replies, “Fifty-nine.” He goes over
to Tom and asks him, “How much is three times three?” Tom replies, “Wednesday.”
Finally, he goes over to John and asks him, “How much is three times three?”
“Nine,” replies John. “That’s right. Now how did you come to that answer?” “It
was easy; I just subtracted fifty-nine from Wednesday.”


Bedside manner is a skill set that requires understanding and addressing the psychology of patients who present with needs, hopes, and fears. Doctors with great bedside manner have loyal patients who will want to stay under their care, refer new patients, and almost never bring a lawsuit even when things don't go well. Being a great doctor requires a constant effort to develop and maintain interpersonal skills. It is just too easy to get preoccupied with the art and science of your profession and forget to take the time to deal with the human being attached to the chart.
Being considerate and having a sense of humor are two of the many components of bedside manner. To be a truly great doctor you must address all of the elements, many of which are not so obvious. Exploring everything from communication skills to character issues provides many ways to improve the doctor patient relationship, and that is what bedside manner is all about.

A practitioner devoid of any semblance of bedside manner, who was more concerned with productivity than patient care, received this actual letter from a clergyman who was unhappy with his experience. You never want to get a letter like this.


Dear “Friends”

Please find the enclosed check ($180) for my visit to your office.

Unfortunately, I find it difficult to pay such a large amount of money for one of the most impersonal, unprofessional and unpleasant experiences I have had in many years.

May I suggest an attempt to reduce a factory like experience as well as your excessive disclaimers for insurance monies and make an effort to improve on friendliness. It seems I had to ask the name of the “specialist consultant” after forty minutes into the visit.

Thanks for you time and consideration.


Reverend xxx


Every practitioner should strive to stand out as the best of the best. It takes a lot of effort to become the best – more than understanding the science of your chosen field. It’s not only what service you deliver; it’s how you deliver it.





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