In this week’s update we wanted to dig deeper into important Soft Skills doctors need to have for strong patient relationships, the good and the bad aspects of being a Pharmacist and what stress Sonographers deal with.
To find out more what recruitment advice suits your needs the most please get in touch with our friendly senior consultants.
Last week’s update talked about the struggles of the new Bulk Billing statistics and Rural GP Vacancies, The Power of the Pharmacy Industry in Australia and a summary of How the Medical Imaging Industry Grew in 2019.
Doctor Soft Skills, Being a Pharmacist and the Stress for Sonographers
Soft Skills Every Doctor Needs – An Overview
Being a Pharmacist
Stressful Conditions for Sonographers
Soft Skills Every Doctor Needs – An Overview
Soft skills are a crucial component to a patient’s consultation with their doctor. We have previously highlighted 5 Important Soft Skills Every Doctor Needs and wanted to dig a little deeper with some of these to further emphasise the importance.
The previous Soft Skills we explored were:
- Solid Interpersonal Skills
- Time Management
- Self Confidence
- Constructive Feedback
Here, we would like to further expand into the topics of Interpersonal Skills and Time Management, as well as the importance of having Curiosity and Self-Care for doctors.
With the Future of Health report released this year by CSIRO, the below shifts are discussed in the health system:
1. From treating illnesses to managing health and wellbeing
2. From one-size-fits-all solutions to precision-based health solutions
3. From a reactive system to a more holistic and predictive approach
4. From trying to extend life to improving the quality of life over a lifetime
Solid Interpersonal Skills (Expanded)
Interpersonal skills will include a wide variety of topics such as Listening, Questioning, Usage and Understanding of Body Language and Awareness of Emotional Intelligence.
Adding to that, the importance of Listening, Motivating, Educating and Non-Verbal Communication is also key to understand how it helps to strengthen the relationship with your patients or in other areas of life.
The reason these can be important enough to grasp in the long run is that they can help to offset the negative impacts of some barriers to communication that naturally tend to happen among humans. It can be tough, we know – barriers like language can inevitably happen in a multicultural city, but also a stressful environment, a lack of time, tiredness or a lack of knowledge into certain ailments and treatments.
The importance of good listening skills is beneficial, for doctors but also the nurses and managers.
Being prepared about the patient, greeting them first on their way in, showing interest and involvement into what they are saying and allowing them to speak without interrupting are important in the beginning. So is maintaining appropriate levels of eye contact and confidentiality.
Dynamically providing the information the patients needs and involving them in some of the decision making can help to put them at ease. There are even subtle and non-verbal ways of using mannerisms like patting shoulders and nodding along in conversations to help convince the patient they are being understood.
Motivating and Educating often are helpful and go hand in hand under the umbrella of a doctor’s interpersonal skills. Often times, a change in a patient’s life can become a barrier itself and with the right and simple education and emotional intelligence from the doctor this patient will feel stronger about breaking through this barrier. Not using technical jargon helps and so does empathy and engagement.
Time Management (Expanded)
As one doctor once wrote on GP Online, what constitutes as a high quality consultation and length of time strongly depends on a wide range of communication skills.
One could argue there is a certain Structure to the consultation. Whereby most of the key interpersonal skills we mentioned earlier can be combined with a smart approach to progressing through the consultation, smart and inclusive decision making and in a lot of cases also allow for a safety net (i.e. explaining the red flags or what to do if symptoms worsen to patients).
A key part to building the right rapport with your patient, having the right examination, providing the right information and appropriately going through your consultation in a timely manner is Prioritising. Having the key bits of information and most effective activities in mind and well-prepared will help the right doctor to help their patients. In the long run the benefits of prioritising will positively impact your stress levels and happiness.
This is one of our favourite topics for discussion in the office. It is an area where even the medical recruiters can find common ground with doctors because a great recruiter should also display levels of curiosity.
The benefits of being curious coupled with strong communication skills will ensure you probe the right kind of information when needed, it means you will think outside the box and look for unlikely solutions to problems, it can lead to an increased learning spirit where you learn from your day-to-day activities and find ways to improve.
It helps to nurture relationships as you are always open to finding ways to help. And generally it will help you with critical thinking and having your own views and thoughts.
Walk it like you talk it. Adopting the habits and advice doctors usually give to their patients should be a part of their own rituals.
We previously also mentioned the 5 Benefits of Working as a Rural GP, and one of the benefits is Quality of Life. Australia is lucky to have diverse and largely populated cities across its states and beautiful inland cities and towns worth exploring.
A doctor has the option to work in a large city and also work in rural Australia if they had the right drive. But the Self-Care aspect can be daunting as the working conditions can be tough. Especially for the Emergency-related doctors. But the reward of Self-Care is a fulfilling life that doctors can share with their families and friends.
In the end we hope you choose to do what is right for you and your situation. And our team of Senior Consultants are there to help you navigate.
Being a Pharmacist
Pharmacists today are just as important and more as pharmacists from earlier in history. In fact, one of the earliest pharmaceutical records for medicine dates back to around 1500 B.C.
But in Australia and other parts of the world, the levels of stress for pharmacists are still high in many cases. It can be challenging, and burnouts do happen even to the best among us.
Whether you are reading this at home after studying or a long day at work, or whether you are at work and having a break, we hope you enjoy reading the below key highlights that we hope make you feel proud to be a pharmacist.
The stress and challenges of pharmacists
Last week, we wrote about The Power of the Pharmacy Industry in Australia. And let’s be honest, pharmacies play an invaluable part in the healthcare industry.
But unfortunately, there is also a high chance of burnout as is outlined in this report from the Australian Pharmaceutical Publishing Company last year.
Pharmacists are becoming conditioned to working 10, sometimes up to 13 hours a day. Generally also in noisy environments with the constant pressure of prescription requests. If you then also combine factors such as onsite staff turnover rates, a lack of quality training for new pharmacists and a lack of appreciation for your work, the outcome can be burnout.
And those are just some of the examples of pressures at work pharmacists face. There are additional pressures lingering in the background that they need to cope with.
One of the biggest and silent pressures is actually the customers’ safety. Whether the pharmacy is using written or electronic prescriptions, deciphering a doctor’s handwriting or their notes can be daunting. And plenty of doctors’ prescriptions can also contain quantity errors for the medicine.
Just imagine for yourself – you have a limited amount of time per customer to educate them on the medicine, while trying to decipher the notes and quantities prescribed by the doctors or else you risk causing potential harm? Or if a customer comes without a prescription, with general questions and minor ailments and in some cases have also tried to pre-educate themselves with doctor Google? Tough situations that happen far too often.
What can community pharmacists provide?
There are multiple services community pharmacists can provide. All of these benefit the communities in Australia and can work closely together with GPs, Allied Health and hospitals.
While these are only served as guidelines, they paint a picture of the areas pharmacies can support their communities with.
Safe advice about how to take over-the-counter and generic medicines best suited for the customer.
General Health Advice
Help with minor ailments and lifestyle choices. This includes the right education for topics such as coughs and colds and flu shots, post-natal care, diabetes, asthma and lifestyle adjustments like wellness, weight and smoking.
Wound Care Advice
Help to manage minor injuries and educate customers about applying dressings and compression garments.
Health Checks and Assessments
Help with providing certain health checks and assessments such as blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar tests. The test results should then still be discussed with the customers’ GP.
Appropriately trained pharmacists can help with approved vaccinations depending on the location.
Advice for Children and Babies
Help with a range of common baby conditions including nappy rash, eczema, constipation, pain, fevers and teething. Some pharmacies also have onsite baby care services.
Provide customers with a medical certificate for absence from work.
Sleep Apnoea Advice
Educate about the risks of sleep apnoea and provide support with home-based sleeping tests.
Pharmacists in 2023: Key points from the Pharmaceutical Society Australia Report
With these challenging conditions in mind, the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia published a report earlier this year about ways to empower and optimize the pharmacy professions as a valuable team member in Australia’s healthcare.
The key points of recommendation are:
- Embedding pharmacists in other teams where medicine is used frequently such as medical centres, residential care facilities and Aboriginal health services.
- Since it is estimated 60% of Australia’s adult population have low levels of health literacy, pharmacists can be better supported to optimize medicine safety and evidence-based education of medical expertise and activities.
- Greater support for pharmacist-led vaccination programs to protect the immunity of infectious diseases and overseas travel.
- Support and desire for pharmacy services to be remunerated through a consultation fee reflecting the time and complexity of the services needed. An appropriate model could be the Medicare Benefits Schedule.
- Stronger recognition of the critical contributions pharmacists provide in Australia by recognizing specialisations, support for pharmacist prescribing and an increase in the remuneration to qualified pharmacists.
These key points are meant to serve as a roadmap towards common goals in healthcare. On the one hand is Cooperation, where pharmacists can be embedded with other areas in medicine and work alongside. On the other hand, is also a stronger Focus towards the services pharmacies can provide, the stress levels of pharmacists at work and recognition of their contributions and hard work.
You may or may not already know, there have been several notable pharmacists throughout history. We have summarized a few below that have immensely impacted the world since their days of working in a pharmacy.
Benjamin Franklin (scientist, inventor and pharmacist in the early apothecary days) was a store clerk dispensing medicine, herbs and other early cures. In his lifetime he played a key role in creating the first public hospital in the United States including the first hospital pharmacy.
John Pemberton (pharmacist) we can thank for inventing Coca Cola. He created a syrup for medical purposes and started selling it to other pharmacies in his city at a price per glass. Later he added carbonated water and the rest became history.
Caleb Bradham (owner and pharmacist) we can thank for inventing the competing cola drink, Pepsi Cola. If these 2 men never worked as pharmacists, we cannot even imagine what kind of other drinks might have been invented instead.
Charles Alderton (pharmacy technician) we can thank for another famous drink, Dr Pepper. Charles worked at a corner drug store and loved his job of mixing medicines and the smell of the drugs so much, in his spare time he served drinks with syrups and this later became the drink a lot of us still love to drink on occasions.
Agatha Christie (author, previously nurse and pharmacy technician) became one of the best selling novelists of all time. To this day she still has a large fanbase and many books worth reading. And in a lot of these books, she used her work experiences for inspiration.
Wilbur Scoville (pharmacist and pharmacological researcher) was credited with creating the Scoville scale of measuring how hot peppers and chillies are. If you love chilli no doubt you would have heard of Scoville mentioned.
Sir Alexander Fleming (pharmacologist) and Friedrich Serturner (pharmacist) are also worthy of mentioning – they are credited with discovering Penicillin and Morphine respectively.
But perhaps the most famous example of someone who worked in a pharmacy prior to achieving their success is actor Chris Hemsworth. The pharmacy Chris used to work at allowed pregnant women to rent milk extractors. His job was to sterilize them when the mothers returned the pumps.
What do you plan to do with your career in the pharmacy industry? We would love to hear from you.
Stressful Conditions For Sonographers
Choosing a career as a Sonographer can generally be a great choice. The pay can be exceptionally good, there are plenty of jobs available across Australia and the training is not as long as some of the other medical fields.
But there are also other aspects of the work that may not always keep you on the sunny side. If you know these in advance, you can work with the pitfalls and anticipate the areas for improvement.
Working conditions for Sonographers
Some jobs have more physical demands for their employees than others. And for Sonographers, their job is one of those.
Neck and back problems can occur if you do not focus on good posture and resting and some exercising. This is due to the long-term risks of repetitive strain injuries.
If you are hunched and bent over in awkward angles, firmly pressing the ultrasound equipment on the parts of the patients’ body being examined every day for periods of time? Pinched nerves and potentially tendonitis can be side effects. Your posture and general body strength will help you to avoid injuries.
And aside from the repetitive tasks with injury risks, there are also other physical demands.
Generally, Sonographers can be on their feet for large portions of their working days. This can put strains on your ankles but can also be alleviated with comfortable shoes and some exercising.
On top of standing a lot, depending on your workplace Sonographers will also need to move their ultrasound machine regularly from patient to patient. This is regardless of going through your patients on a normal working day or in emergency situations where you will also be called.
And if one of those patients is limited with moving around themselves? The Sonographer will help and move them into the position they need to be for the ultrasound.
The pace at which you need to work will also depend on the workplace. Shift work and sharing of evening and weekend shifts with senior colleagues can happen. So can time constraints per ultrasound.
With this in mind, Sonographers also need to be good at direct contact with their patients. And this is where positive and negative Implications for the patients can arise that will also impact the Sonographers. Especially the negative implications for those that have not been trained enough and previously exposed to delivering bad news.
Implications of Ultrasounds for pregnant patients
Ultrasounds are not always entirely precise and conclusive. Sometimes they are, but either way, it can lead to communication issues between the Sonographer and patient.
When are they not always precise?
Gender of the baby: Sometimes the baby is in a difficult position for the ultrasound shot to be assessed, other times the position of the placenta can get in the way or the thickness of the mother’s abdominal wall.
Due Date: Ultrasounds can be accurate to within 3 to 5 days of the conception date and generally this accuracy becomes better for Ultrasounds done in the earlier stages.
Limbs: Sometimes when the ultrasound is done in the first trimester the baby might create the impression there is a limb missing, but this can change in the second trimester and requires further examining.
Central Nervous Systems Issues: There are several abnormalities at stake but for the nervous system it can be hard to detect any on the ultrasound until as late as around the 30-weeks gestation.
And additionally, it can be important to note that pregnant women are encouraged to drink plenty of water and to go into their ultrasound with a full bladder. A full bladder enables the Sonographer to see the uterus on the ultrasound instead of being hidden behind the bowel which can delay the results.
In other cases, when can the ultrasounds be precise and conclusive?
Amniotic Fluid: This is the fluid that cushions the fetus and helps with the development of muscles, lungs and the digestive system and Sonographers measure whether the fluid level is too low or too high throughout the pregnancy.
Chromosome and Structural Abnormalities: To help catch these early, a Nuchal Translucency ultrasound can be done and it is performed during a specific timeframe in the pregnancy to determine any abnormalities for further examination.
Heart Defects: Sonographers can spot any abnormalities with the functioning of the heart, and depending on the type of abnormality there are multiple additional tests that can be done.
Neural Tube Defects: This is where ultrasound can show any deformities in the Spine or Skull of the baby to enable early detection.
Kidney and Urinary Defects: Ultrasounds can spot whether there is a blockage in the flow of urine, whether any valve mechanisms are not working properly or even worse, whether a kidney has any major defects that will impact its functioning.
And keep in mind, we have only scratched the surface here of the potentially bad news pregnant patients may be told after their ultrasounds. Scans are also used in other areas of medicine.
Sonographers need to be supported to manage any time constraints and stress levels. This can severely impact how they deal with the news to their patients and how they support them through it with the right additional examinations and referrals to other doctors. A stressed Sonographer can lead to a stressed patient.
How are you managing your stress at work? And are you successfully using any methods of discussing bad news with your patients to minimize hardships? We would love to find out more.
Gorilla Jobs can assist you with exploring a variety of job opportunities across our large network of clients looking for qualified staff. Our experienced consultants in the Doctor, Imaging and Pharmacy divisions look forward to helping you.
Speak to one of our Senior Consultants today and find out what career and recruitment advice will help you to navigate through the positions available and which ones are most suited to your situation.
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