Patient care has always been a passion of mine. Nothing beats the feeling of having a patient come into the department scared and stressed, and then leave calmly with a smile on their face.

I was told early in my career to treat every patient as though they were my sister, brother, mother, father, grandma…you get the picture. This tip has served me well in my years of being on the floor as a neurology medical technician (NMT). Even with my most difficult patients…

Typically, patients come into the department newly diagnosed with something they don’t understand and are unsure of what their test involves. Trying to wrap their heads around their new existence and diagnosis, they’re stressed, sad and sometimes lash out. So how do I provide outstanding patient care in these situations? Here are my top five tips:

1. Listen and ease nerves

When I bring a patient into the department, my first inclination is to listen and see where they are at in handling their diagnosis (and yes, I realize some haven’t been told yet). If they start crying or seem apprehensive or nervous, I make sure to explain the procedure as clearly and simply as I can, emphasizing that there is nothing to fear by doing this test. I make sure they realize that someone will be near by the entire time, and I’ll even show them the camera if I feel this will help.

2. Use humour

I consider myself lucky that I’ve been able to pour a bit of humor into my explanations (if it feels appropriate) to help alleviate the tension my patients may feel. Humor can be tough because of the nature of our job, and I don’t recommended it for everyone. But when used properly and in the right situations, it can work miracles. Like I said, I’ve been lucky, but have had patient’s where you immediately know humor is a no-go and to be uber-professional throughout the entire interaction.

3. Don’t multitask

Focus on the patient, and don’t multitask by writing things down or doing another task while talking to them. Look your patients in the eye, and let them know you are there for them and that they have your undivided attention. This shows that you care and will ease their fears.

4. Answer questions

Taking the time to answer questions is crucial to ensuring your patient feels supported. Full disclosure: at this point, I may start to multi-task a little…we all know the time constraints in a radiology practice. However, I do guage the patient on whether this is appropriate. That’s why I always encourage students to be completely prepared for the injection before you bring the patient back. These few tricks have made me a better tech for my patients.

5. Be present and turn a bad day into a good one

If you’re having a rotten day, you never know which patient (or co-worker) may say something to change your day around. If you’re grumpy and withdrawn from your patients, you may miss that one special person who can put a smile on your face. Try to be as present and engaged as possible so you don’t miss this.

Patient care is the heart of our radiology practice, whether we are nuc med, ultrasound, xr, mri or ct. Remember, even when you feel like pulling your hair out, ask yourself: “How would I want my family member to be treated?”