I have delved into similar topics before, but I wanted to highlight something I read on Academic Life in Emergency Medicine this weekend. They have been running a series entitled “How I work smarter” that features leaders in the field talking about various aspects of their careers. This weekend’s entry from Dr. Rick Body contained a powerful bit of advice in response to the question, What is your best time saving tip in the ED?

In all honesty, my best time saving tip is to forget about time when you’re seeing patients. That seems counter-intuitive. As a junior, I always wanted to be fast so that patients wouldn’t have to wait so long. From the start of every consultation I was conscious that the clock was ticking and I really tried to direct and focus what was happening. Nowadays, I realise how badly mistaken I was. Those first few moments after you make initial contact with a patient are crucial to help them to relax, to trust you and to open up about what’s really troubling them. Listen to your patient without interrupting. Make good eye contact. Allowing brief moments of silence gives them opportunities to realise you’re listening, to tell you things they otherwise wouldn’t, to appreciate that they don’t need to exaggerate their symptoms to get you to take them seriously. Ultimately, by really understanding what’s going on you get to an accurate diagnosis faster.

I couldn’t have said it better myself. Read more at Academic Life in Emergency Medicine.