Dialogue Volume 14 Issue 2 2018 - Page 41

PRACTICE PARTNER Civil Service More respectful conversations at work can spill over into patient outcomes DOC TALK By Stuart Foxman M edicine is a high-pressure and fast-paced occupa- tion. Sometimes, there’s no time for niceties. In the ER or ICU, says Dr. Michael Kaufmann, you have to issue commands. They can sound brusque, and that’s expected. But that’s very different, he says, than routinely barking at or disrespecting others. “We can still communicate in a direct manner and leave the other person feeling intact,” he says. Why is that a major issue? To Dr. Kaufmann, a former family doctor, some- thing is missing from many professional interactions in health care. Something that, if practised more often, could lead to more productive and cohesive work environments, and even better outcomes for patients: Civility. It may sound like a quaint concept, but Dr. Kaufmann suggests it’s needed more than ever. “There’s room for all tempera- ments in medicine, but we can still all be civil,” he says. “That’s an age old need, and it doesn’t just happen. Civility is something we need to value, learn more about, practise and encourage.” If that doesn’t occur, Dr. Kaufmann has seen the repercussions. He is the Medical Director Emeritus for the OMA’s Physician Health Program. There, he worked with doc- tors who were dealing with behaviours, and underlying concerns, that were having a det- rimental personal and professional impact. The College references civility in its Practice Guide and in its policy, Physician Behaviour in the Professional Environ- ment, and there are certainly references in both documents to collegiality, and to the importance of working respectfully and collaboratively with other members of the health-care team. Why? To maximize the quality of patients’ care. “Civility, in essence, is a professional expectation,” says Dan Faulkner, Interim Registrar of the College. So much of what we call disruptive ISSUE 2, 2018 DIALOGUE 41