The Monday Memo
August 27, 2018 PITT DPT STUDENTS
This past summer, I completed a clinical rotation in the hospital setting. Throughout my time there, I was exposed to countless learning opportunities including professionalism, communication, and time management as an inpatient student therapist. One experience I especially valued was the interprofessional communication opportunities throughout the various disciplines in the hospital. On a daily basis, I communicated with doctors, nurses, occupational therapists, and other general disciplines. With patient care being discussed so frequently, I began noticing something that was used by all disciplines:
People first language is described as acknowledging the person before his or her disability or diagnosis. This acknowledges that a person is not defined by their diagnosis. Healthcare professionals using this helps the patient feel valued and can lead to a healthier relationship between the patient and the nurse, doctor, therapist, etc.
As someone who is still very new to working in a healthcare environment, I must confess that it is difficult for me to always use people first language. Sometimes it is easy to address a person as “that total knee replacement man” or “the diabetic woman” in order to ensure patient confidentiality. However, we must try to avoid this kind of language that makes it seem we are defining a patient as their diagnosis.
Using people first language is a relatively simple and easy way to treat patients with respect and ensure professionalism. With practice, it may even become second nature! In the future, I aspire to use people first language as avidly as the faculty in my recent clinical rotation. Below are some additional resources in using proper patient first communication.
-Layne Gable. SPT