Patient: “Doctor, if I give up wine, women, and smoking, will I live longer?”

Doctor: “Not really, it’ll just seem longer.”


Being a great doctor and being perceived as a great doctor by your patients are two entirely different matters.

Every health-care school in the nation provides curriculum to train highly competent practitioners to serve the community. However, formal training in bedside manner, the way in which a doctor relates to the patient, is generally underdeveloped. While it may be impossible to change your personality, there is no reason basic interpersonal skills can’t be learned as they relate to managing patients.

The Seven Cs of a Great Doctor:

  1. Competency
  2. Compassion
  3. Communication
  4. Confidence
  5. Character
  6. Class
  7. Comedy

Ironically, competence is the only trait of a great doctor not required for great bedside manner. As patients have almost no way of determining the medical proficiency of doctors, they usually assume their doctors are knowledgeable and competent. When patients heal, that becomes validation of competency. When they don’t get better, most patients still assume there are medical reasons beyond the control of their doctor. It is, therefore, the remaining six characteristics that patients use to judge their doctors.

The Six Cs of Great Bedside Manner:

  1. Compassion
  2. Communication
  3. Confidence
  4. Character
  5. Class
  6. Comedy

It is the Six Cs of Bedside Manner that make patients love and cherish certain doctors. These are the qualities that constitute great bedside manner.

Compassion – The ability to show you truly care about the plight of the patient.

Communication – The ability of a doctor to make the time spent with the patient meaningful. Communication is a two-way street requiring the ability to listen as well as the ability to explain. When the doctor doesn’t understand the patient’s problems and the patient doesn’t understand the course of treatment, care is jeopardized and the opportunity to build patient loyalty is lost.

Confidence – The ability to convey to the patient that you are competent and have all the ability to solve their problems. Confidence is very much a communicative skill and goes hand in hand with how you communicate.

Character – Character is best defined as moral and ethical values. Character goes beyond the Hippocratic Oath. It is who you are as a person in society and it includes the values you learned from your parents and teachers.

Class – Often mistaken as “breeding,” class is actually the way a professional looks, acts and handles him- or herself when interacting with patients.

Comedy – The ability of a doctor to make patients smile or laugh in a setting that doesn’t engender much humor. Make your patients laugh and they will love you.

When patients visit the doctor, they are often scared, nervous or worried. Apprehension and fear can manifest in many ways. The patient might be verbal, quiet and withdrawn, belligerent, nervous, anxious, or outright hysterical. An amalgamation of these behaviors is common. All of these behaviors can be modified by any one of the Six Cs of Great Bedside Manner. Used in combination, you can make most any patient feel more comfortable.

By learning and utilizing the methods in this book, you will improve the way in which you relate to your patients and develop a great bedside manner. These skills will enable you to have enhanced medical outcomes, grow your practice, protect yourself from lawsuits, and gain your patients’ respect, love, and loyalty. So let’s take a look at each of the Six Cs in more detail.


• Gabriela (2022/03/03 15:29)
As healthcare providers we should all be competent in our jobs. But as explained here no one ever teaches you how to make your patients have a good experience; to be honest I dont know if that is something you can actually teach. I found incredibly important to mix all those C\\\'s in order to give excellent treatment to our patients because we all have to understand we are not just treating teeth, this is people we are helping. The first thing I feel patients see is just how we interact with each other, how do we treat ourselves in the team. That speaks a lot about the Dr and thats why I think creating a great team, family like is very important. On the other hand being able to comunicate with the patient, explain them is everyday words what we are doing. Understanding what they are going to go through helps them to ease the anxiety a little. And joking, I feel thats really important, allow them to laugh and be an active part of this team. I recently did have a bad experience where my patient was being rude all the time. She wouldnt say it but her attitude was negative all the time. When we start working she ask me and my assistant \\\"not to talk anything other than her tooth while we were working on her\\\". Knowing how to handle this is really delicate. I think I wasnt to good since I just decided I was not talking anymore and maybe that didnt make her feel better so I might have even made her more anxious. Once we were done on her 2nd app she started to relax a little bit and that made me feel maybe all her bad attitude is just anxiety and I should learn to manage it better.
• Craig (2022/03/02 21:44)
We have recently started doing consultations with our patients and scheduling for treatment rather than \"greet and treat.\" I have noticed that the patients are considerably more at ease during the appointment and I suspect will be more at ease when it comes to treatment as there will be rapport established and the environment will be familiar. This format allows us as providers to convey the 6 C\'s in a non time sensitive manner that is sometimes otherwise not possible when we are trying to keep the appointment moving so we can start treatment and keep on schedule.
• Ben (2022/03/02 19:55)
I agree with all six C\'s of great bedside manner. I can\'t say that one is more important than any of the others. I have, however, found humor to be especially important so far in my residency experience. Most everyone who comes to see us is nervous at best and terrified at worst. It\'s been my experience that a well-timed and appropriate quip can help the patient let their guard down and relax a bit. Communication with patients, colleagues and referring dentists is, of course, essential. I look forward to being more intentional about implementing each of these skills in my every day practice and interactions with patients.
• Toni (2022/03/02 17:34)
I really liked the comment that great bedside manner can be learned and not just purely dependent on your personality. As long as we have a growth mentality, everything can be learned and improved upon. I definitely agree that patient interactions and beside manner are not emphasized in school, but it is the key in developing patient relationships and running a successful practice. This is what the patients remember the most about their visit.

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