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Practical Application: Assessing Pharmacist-Patient Communication Skills

Instructor: Amanda Robb

Amanda has taught high school Biology and Physics for 8 years and has a focus on special education and urban education. She received her Master's degree in teaching from Simmon's College and her Masters in Science from Tufts Medical School in Cellular and Molecular Physiology.

These questions will help you self-assess your skills when it comes to pharmacist-patient communication. After you take the quiz, we'll analyze your results and look at how to improve areas for growth.

What are Pharmacist-Patient Skills?

Have you ever been to the doctor and felt like they were speaking another language? Medical jargon can be difficult to understand, and it is crucial that patients understand how to manage their medical treatment. This is where pharmacist-patient communication comes in. As you read in the lesson, Skills Necessary for Pharmacist-Patient Communications there are several key characteristics of good pharmacist-patient communication:

  • Simple
  • Specific
  • Summarize
  • Sincere
  • Prepared
  • Professional
  • Caring

Now, let's look at some questions to help you decide how you're doing with each of these skills. Answer the questions below, then we'll analyze your results.

Questionnaire

Simple

  • Can you keep your message to three sentences or less when communicating with patients?
  • Do people maintain focus while you're talking to them?
  • Are your sentences short and to the point?

Specific

  • Is your communication with the patient clear?
  • Is your communication with the patient limited to exactly what they need to know?
  • Do you use exact times and doses when communicating about medication?
  • Can you visually demonstrate how much medication to take if the patient doesn't understand English?

Summarize

  • Do you summarize the key points after explaining what a patient should do?
  • Can you quickly repeat back the most important points of your communication?
  • Do you ask the patient to repeat back the instructions prior to leaving if they seem confused?

Sincere

  • Are you warm and friendly with patients?
  • Can you empathize with patients and their situation?
  • Do you smile and greet patients before explaining their medication?

Prepared

  • Are you prepared to answer potentially embarrassing questions?
  • Do you feel knowledgeable about the topics relevant to the medication you provide?
  • Do you know what to say if you're not sure of an answer to a question?

Professional

  • Do you speak clearly and directly to patients?
  • Do you refrain from making jokes with patients?
  • Do you maintain eye contact when speaking?

Caring

  • Do you convey an attitude of acceptance and refrain from judgment?
  • Do you smile and make patients feel welcome?
  • Do you embrace any questions from patients, even if they may seem obvious?

Analysis

Which areas did you answer 'yes' to the most? Which areas did you answer 'no' to the most? The areas where you mainly answered 'yes' are your areas of strength. You're already doing well in these areas of communication and should keep up the good work. However, any sections that you frequently answered 'no' to are areas for growth. Which areas do you need to improve on?

Take a look at the following tips for each section, paying special attention to the sections that you need to work on.

Simple

If you're having trouble keeping the information simple, try this exercise. Look at the directions for medication or write down what you would potentially say to a patient. Then, try to shrink that message to only three sentences. If you practice summarizing you will improve this skill for when you actually meet with patients.

Specific

Try to eliminate vague language. Instead of saying ''take one pill at night,'' give the patient a specific time. Try to think of questions a patient might ask you about the directions, and then modify your directions to include that information. A patient should be able to carry out the correct actions from your instructions with no follow-up questions.

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