In general, I consider myself a patient person. And I truly do love to make connections with my patients, no matter how difficult some of them may be. I actually pride myself on it. But sometimes, no matter how hard I try, patience eludes me. Take, for example, a new patient who I was evaluating this Sunday. It was my seventh day of work in a row, preceded by a Saturday when no one seemed to want to willingly participate in therapy. So when 11 a.m. came around and my patient was less than cooperative, I found myself taking a few walks around the corner and some deep breaths.
I haven't been challenged like this for a while now. For the most part, my patients have been happy to work with me despite my "student" status. And I've had a very kind and polite caseload lately. So today, when I was confronted by a patient who questioned and confronted everything I presented to him, I was caught a little bit off-guard. I realized that I haven't quite refined my communication skills with patients who are skeptical of my ability to provide the highest standard of care (and also with those people who, no matter who you are or what you say, are a pain). I found my confidence wavering alongside my patience, which surely didn't help my case.
In the end, I realized that in situations like this I need to earn the person's trust. And if I was reading the situation correctly, I also need to make him feel like he has some sort of control. (My CI helped me with that one). Get him to buy into what we're doing and trust that for the most part, I know what I'm doing. I haven't quite figured out how to boost my patience at the end of a seven-day work week, so if anyone knows how to conquer that one, be sure to let me know.