Dr. Bardwell Expresses the Importance of Listening

Wayne A. Bardwell, PhD, MBA
Published: Friday, Dec 02, 2011

Wayne A. Bardwell, PhD, MBA, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, director, Patient & Family Support Service, Doris Howell Service Moores, University of California, San Diego, Cancer Center, expresses the importance of listening and understanding a patient’s troubles in order to fully care for their psychosocial needs.

As a culture our first inclination is to help people solve their problems. In many cases it can be far more beneficial to listen as opposed to taking action. The power of listening is undervalued in our society and is extremely important to convey understanding.

To support his point Bardwell reverses a common idiom and uses the expression, "Don't just do something, stand there." This expression calls for individuals to not take immediate action and requires thorough understanding and listening. This idea is essential for nurses and doctors in order to demonstrate an understanding of the patient’s situation and what is causing them difficulty.

Bardwell feels the worse thing a practitioner can do is say there is nothing to fear. This leaves the patient feeling misunderstood; to them there are plenty of things to worry about. First time or relapsed cancer patients will always have some degree of fear.

Clinicians should advise their patients that fear is understandable, a plan is in place, and every possible resource will be used to help them. Assuring the patient their care involves coordination with a multidisciplinary team and every possible resource will help them feel understood and more at ease.

Wayne A. Bardwell, PhD, MBA, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, director, Patient & Family Support Service, Doris Howell Service Moores, University of California, San Diego, Cancer Center, expresses the importance of listening and understanding a patient’s troubles in order to fully care for their psychosocial needs.

As a culture our first inclination is to help people solve their problems. In many cases it can be far more beneficial to listen as opposed to taking action. The power of listening is undervalued in our society and is extremely important to convey understanding.

To support his point Bardwell reverses a common idiom and uses the expression, "Don't just do something, stand there." This expression calls for individuals to not take immediate action and requires thorough understanding and listening. This idea is essential for nurses and doctors in order to demonstrate an understanding of the patient’s situation and what is causing them difficulty.

Bardwell feels the worse thing a practitioner can do is say there is nothing to fear. This leaves the patient feeling misunderstood; to them there are plenty of things to worry about. First time or relapsed cancer patients will always have some degree of fear.

Clinicians should advise their patients that fear is understandable, a plan is in place, and every possible resource will be used to help them. Assuring the patient their care involves coordination with a multidisciplinary team and every possible resource will help them feel understood and more at ease.


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