How important are “soft” skills int he clinical world? Well, if you’ve seen the research about amazing patient experiences, you’ve likely seen the impact of strong interpersonal skills on patient experience and engagement in treatment. In fact, often times, patients report higher levels of satisfaction with treatment if the clinician they see demonstrates active listening, empathy, and understanding.


I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Erika from The Burnt Out To Lit Up Podcast to talk about how we, as clinicians can better communicate with patients and clients. We talked about behavioral change and the Transtheoretical model, patient engagement, communicating with difficult patients, the importance of a biopsychosocial approach, and the importance of body language.


We also talked about some interesting topics around entrepreneurship, careers, communicating your value as a clinician, and opportunities for non-traditional areas of practice. You can check out the resource page for this episode here.


Check out the podcast here!



Burnt Out to Lit Up Podcast: Episode 115


Here are some highlights from the episode:


  • Much of the research done on patient experience, patient engagement, and their subjective feelings on the quality of care they are receiving shows that these things have very little to do with the provider’s clinical skills. It has way more to do with communication and interpersonal skills. Being an OK clinician with great interpersonal skills will get you happier patients than a great clinician with a terrible bedside manner. These “soft skills” are often the most difficult to cultivate, as they are not directly addressed in school. Some examples include: active listening, empathy, being friendly, warm and inviting, encouragement, non verbal communication. What patients expect is an empathetic person on the other side of the treatment table above all else.
  • Difficult patients – Rafael explains that many times “difficult patients” are so because they believe they are not being heard. If they are not engaged or are non compliant, they may not feel listened to by that clinic or provider
  • Unicorn OT roles – there is opportunity everywhere to jump into non traditional OT roles, but you have to assess your tolerance of risk. Looking for or creating other types of roles is not for everyone and might make some clinicians uneasy. If your personal, family, and financial circumstances allow it, it is ok to take some risks with your career to create or search for the kind of roles you wish to fill.


Check out the resource page I’ve put together for this episode!


Check out the podcast here!


Do you prioritize the “soft” skills in your clinical practice? Share any additional resources that you found helpful in the comments below!

If you’d like to talk with me about your clinic, department, or practice, and how Rehab U can help you improve patient retention and engagement. Schedule a FREE 15-minute brainstorm call with me.


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For more informational reads, check out our Insights Page to see all the articles we’ve published to date. Click here to head over to our resources section and check out our variety of clinical and professional resources aimed at increasing your knowledge and skills. Or you can check out our online courses and programs. If you’d like to make some changes in your clinic or health center, and would like some help, check out our consulting and advisement services or contact us to see how we can help you break out of the norm and provide a truly impactful patient experience.

Rafael E. Salazar II, MHS, OTR/L is the Principal Owner of Rehab U Practice Solutions. He has experience in a variety of rehab settings, working with patients recovering from a variety of injuries and surgeries. He worked as the lead clinician in an outpatient specialty clinic at his local VA Medical center. He also has experience as an adjunct faculty instructor at Augusta University’s Occupational Therapy Program, as a Licensed Board Member on the GA State OT Board, has served on several committees for the national OT Board (NBCOT), and as a consultant working for the State of Georgia’s DBHDD. He is also on the Board of Directors for NBCOT. He works to help healthcare clinics and organizations deliver uniquely impactful patient experiences by improving service delivery through training & advisement and through courses & training programs.

Read his full bio Here. Read about Rehab U Here.

Schedule a free 15-minute brainstorm call with him Here.

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