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          Developing Effective Communication Skills

          in Radiology Students

          Chad Hensley, PhD, R.T.(R)(MR)

                 he development of soft skills is receiving greater   The emphasis on increased patient satisfaction
                 attention because these skills are necessary for   precipitated a shift from an illness-centered model of
                 success in today’s workforce. Soft skills include   communication to a patient-centered model.  This shift
          Tcapabilities and character traits such as effective   in focus placed more emphasis on improving the patient
          communication, critical thinking, teamwork, and    experience, in which communication has a large role.
          empathy. As technology improves and becomes more   Patients remember the personal treatment and interper-
          automated, the need for soft skills is becoming more   sonal communication they received from their health
          important. However, employers report difficulty finding   care provider more than their clinical or technical
          candidates who possess sufficient soft skills.  This gap    quality of care. 10
          in soft skills also is present in the health care field. 2,3  Patient-centered communication is a model commonly
            Accrediting organizations of health care education   used in health care and, for decades, has been reported
          programs recognize communication as an essential    to improve health outcomes and patient satisfaction.
          skill that should be included in curriculum. The   The patient-centered communication model involves
          Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education,   3 goals: eliciting the patient’s perspective on the illness,
          the American Association of Colleges of Nursing,    understanding the patient’s psychosocial context, and
          and the Liaison Committee on Medical Education     reaching shared decision goals with the patient. 12
          include communication skills as part of their standards.
          The Joint Review Committee on Education in         Radiology Communication
          Radiologic Technology also recognizes the value in    Because it is out of the scope of practice for a radiologic
          developing effective communication skills and requires   technologist to diagnose, a patient-centered approach
          that programs include assessment that facilitates    in radiology is different than a traditional patient-
          program improvement (Standard 6.3).  Patients have    centered communication model. A radiology-specific
          a better experience when their health care providers    patient-centered experience is holistic and is derived
          are effective at communicating with them. Despite    from the scheduling process, imaging examination,
          this increased emphasis on communication, recent    reporting, billing, and future communications.  The
          graduates have shown a lack of the communication   radiologic technologist has the primary responsibility
          skills employers seek.                             of communicating with the patient during the imaging
                                                             examination. Although the responsibilities of radiologic
          Communication and the Patient’s                    technologists regarding a patient-centered approach
          Experience                                         might differ compared with other health care professions,
            Verbal and nonverbal communication are essential   having radiologic technologists with effective commu-
          for developing interpersonal skills (ie, bedside manner).   nication skills remains important.
          Nonverbal communication includes empathy, listening,   Radiologic technologists are directly involved with
          posture, eye contact, and tone of voice, which factor   patient care but perceive their role differently from
          into effective communication and have been linked to   other health care disciplines; they perceive their role as
          patient satisfaction. 7                            more procedural when providing information.

          RADIOLOGIC TECHNOLOGY, July/August 2022, Volume 93, Number 6                                    577
          Reprinted with permission from the American Society of Radiologic Technologists for educational purposes. ©2022. All rights reserved.
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