Ways to Show Sympathy as a Medical Professional

As a medical professional, many soft skills can help you deliver top-notch patient care. There are certain times when treating a patient by expressing sympathy is appropriate. Making an effort to demonstrate sympathy when your patients need it most will enhance your quality of care and allow you to develop a stronger connection with them during their most difficult times. Here are some ways in which you can show sympathy to your patients while still maintaining professionalism:


Acknowledge your patients’ feelings.

The first step to showing sympathy is acknowledging your patients’ feelings and relating to their struggles. For example, if your patient is experiencing depression from having a terminal illness, you may choose to share your own personal experience dealing with a family member who went through a similar situation. Relating to a patient’s circumstances in a kind and compassionate way will show a personal acknowledgment of their feelings.


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Empathy vs. Sympathy: Understanding the Difference When Working with Elderly Patients



Develop your emotional intelligence skills.

While many healthcare providers have the emotional intelligence to some extent, there is always room for improvement. Emotional intelligence, or the ability to understand another person’s emotions in an empathic way, will allow you to navigate conversations with patients with compassion and understanding. Additionally, it’s important to exhibit emotional intelligence when interacting with patient’s families, as these interpersonal exchanges can often be emotional for both the patient and their loved ones.


Take care of your well-being.

Remember, it’s nearly impossible to care for others without caring for yourself too. By prioritizing your needs, you can provide better emotional support to your patients. According to Case Western University’s School of Medicine, healthcare providers can avoid “compassion fatigue” by focusing on their own health, including getting proper sleep and nutrition. When you feel your strongest physically and mentally, you can provide the best care to your patients.


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