Communication in Medicine

The way we communicate (which comes from the Latin ‘communicare’, meaning ‘to share’) can be either good medicine or bad medicine.

We can communicate in a way that makes people feel valued, cared for, supported, even loved, or we can communicate in a way that makes them feel less than us, uncared for, and other unpleasant feelings.

Communication is not just about the words we use. It is about the tone we speak them in, the gestures that accompany them, our body language … for communication is an energy that is felt in the body and shared between bodies.

The state we are in determines the quality of our communication, both what we share and what we receive, and it is our responsibility to care for ourselves deeply, so that same quality of care is shared in all of our communication.

Loving communication is about deeply caring for people, as fellow human beings, no matter what ‘role’ they play in our lives, whether they be patients, colleagues, family or friends.

The strength of all our relationships lies in our ability to care about and truly communicate with each other, to share ourselves from the deepest part of our being.

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Latest Articles on Communication in Medicine

photo of woman in mask for article on masks by Dr Fiona Williams

Masks: are you wearing one?

It’s 2020. The Year of the Mask. Whether you are a medical professional or not, you will have been asked to wear them, discern their worth, determine which type is best for you, consider their real purpose and deliberate on where you stand with respect to the health benefits they may offer you personally or the population as a whole.
Photo of pink rose for article by 'A Doctor's' Wife'

A Dance

My husband often works at the hospital at night and so as the saying goes, we are two ships passing, living a dance where...
Photo of pink rose for article by 'A Doctor's' Wife'

Coronavirus and contagion: what are we passing on?

My husband works as a doctor in a hospital so I am frequently reminded of the constant demand health professionals are under. On a...
photo of rose by Anne Malatt for article by Dr Anne Malatt on why do patients withhold information from their doctors

Why half our patients don’t tell their doctors life-threatening details

I recently read an article stating that nearly half of patients who were surveyed online admitted they don’t tell doctors potentially life-threatening details of...
Photo of Dr Michael Myers for article by Dr Michael Myers on physician suicide awareness day

The Key to Orienting Incoming Residents and Fellows

I recently had a chance to speak to State University of New York (SUNY) Downstate’s incoming residents and fellows about well-being and self-care. These women...

The power of communication in medicine

Medicine has a language all of its own – a combination of Ancient Greek, Latin, people’s names, made-up words and acronyms – but what...
Photo of Dr Michael Myers for article by Dr Michael Myers on physician suicide awareness day

A Touching New York Story

This piece is a departure from my usual missives on physician health and suicide. I want to share an experience I’m sure many readers...

The Nocebo Effect

I read an article (1) recently on the nocebo effect, which is the opposite of the placebo effect. When a person expects a side-effect...
Patient Hands

Compassion, empathy and sympathy – what do they truly mean?

As a profession, medicine is beginning to be aware that we must care for the whole person, if we are to truly practise the...
Doctor Anne Malatt

Doctors can learn about life from their patients

Doctors aren’t supposed to have favourite patients. We are not supposed to feel anything, really. We are supposed to be objective, dispassionate, and to not...