Confidence vs. Competence
As medical providers, the line between competence and confidence is crossed everyday. In your 'strong topics,' it is easy to be competent. When a patient asks a question regarding their knee pathology, you likely knows the anatomy, type of tear, and treatment progression. But what if the patient asks a question regarding a new knee surgery that he has been reading about? As the expert, you should be knowledgeable regarding the procedure, but maybe you have forgotten to open the past few editions of JOSPT. How do you respond to the question?
After working with several students, it is clear that confidence is nearly as important as competence. In the example above, you may not have the entire answer, but the demeanor in which you present yourself completely changes the context of the answer. In several situations, a student has answered a patient's question, and the patient turns to me to get a second opinion. Almost always, the students answer is correct. The patient wants a second opinion because he knows the student was hesitant in his/her response.
Ideally, confidence and competence would grow together- the more you learn, the more confident you become. Realistically, it takes multiple repetitions in the clinic to become confident in your interactions with patients. Building trust in the patient can be a difficult task. You must be honest with your patients, but your demeanor can greatly change the outcome of the patient interaction. The video below is not physical therapy related, but it sends a good message regarding body language.
How do you carry yourself? What is your body language in the clinic? How is your body language affecting your patient interactions?
3/29/2015 12:20:19 am
I have this conversation with all of my athletic training students. We must always be conscious of how we carry ourselves and the non-verbal conversation that we have with our patients. Even if we may not have all of the information at that time, we can convey confidence in our ability to still be effective practitioners and find the information. This is especially necessary for students to understand as they are in the process of learning new skills any may have learned knee assessment skills three hours before interacting with a patient with a knee issue. Good article!
3/29/2015 02:25:40 am
4/2/2015 10:53:34 am
When I was a student, one of my clinical instructors told me that he had a rule that we never cross our arms in front of patients. He said it was because the non verbal signs you are giving off is that you are closed off. This will lead the pt to not open up as much or feel comfortable with asking you personal questions or telling your their real signs/symptoms. As my clinical went on, I realized that more and more patients were opening up to me both on a treatment level, but also on a personal level.It took a while for me to break the habit, but once I did it allowed me to have more confidence in myself to give them the knowledge that I knew I had in my head. If i wasn't sure of an answer, I knew I could tell that I would look into it and know I didn't lose the patients respect of confidence in me. How we carry ourselves not does effect both us as clinicians, but also on a personal level.
4/17/2015 05:27:39 am
I find this even more true as we interact with other healthcare providers. I've worked in several settings where I've had constant interaction (and occasional disagreements) with various types of providers and your body language and therefore perceived level of competence play an enormous role in whether they give your input any merit. As we strive toward a doctoring profession, it is vital that we put our best foot forward in every interaction with other providers, physicians in particular!
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