Monday, November 14, 2011

Much ado about interviews

I spent most of last Saturday at the hospital…even though I had the weekend off.


I had 8 patients admitted, and I wanted to take the time to talk to them, and redo their histories. So, that’s 8 patients, and then 8 family caregivers (i.e. bantays) that I talked to, last Saturday. Sometimes, the responsibility of making their lives “better” daunts me, but usually, it’s been advised that as soon as you’ve addressed the reasons for admission *, then you can deal with their other problems on an out-patient basis.

Trust me, I’ve been at this for a year, and honestly speaking, no two patients are the same. Although their reasons for admission, and their problems might revolve around the themes of love, family and stressors, they are all different from each other somewhat. It’s fascinating.

Getting through to people takes some time and a comfortable environment, so I don’t really like it if I have to interview my patients in the loud and oftentimes hot Emergency room (we call it the ACU – Acute Care Unit) where I work. Sometimes, one wonders (I know I do) if one’s psychotherapy is getting through to the patient. I like interviewing my ward patients in the Child Psychiatry Unit, which is almost always empty and free, because it’s quiet, and it’s air-conditioned.  

When I do my interviews, I usually interview a patient first, and then have his/her family caregiver come in, so I can do confirmatory interview. It’s a tedious process, but it’s of my own doing (and choice). A collateral informant is always needed. Like my supervisor says, a psychotic patient is not always dependable, and thus, you have to practice talking to, and getting other vital information, from another informant (I had to do this during my oral exam).

I find interviewing both quite a fun and exasperating activity. It takes all of my patience and skill to try to get the real story from what I’m hearing and listening to from my patient. It’s like, aside from the fact that you have to listen, and get the real story from between the lines, you have to see how he or she tells it…whether his or her face registers something otherwise. “Active listening”, as it is called, takes quite a lot of energy. I think it’s because you’re “on your guard” for every second of the interview. “You have to have a presence”, my supervisor said. The patient has to “know you’re there” when you’re interviewing.

Back when I was in medical school (and even when I was still a student), I liked to sit in front because I felt I could better remember things if I saw how the speaker was teaching, how he said words, what his face looked like while he was giving a lecture. I’m more visual… but it also helped me remember what he taught if I remembered how he taught it, and if I associated it with a memory.

It’s pretty much the same when I’m interviewing…it helps me remember more details if I take a mental picture of their faces, if I remember how their hands moved, or if I saw how they positioned themselves. People can be such fascinating creatures…

Lately, I’ve been interested in studying body language, and I’m trying to read up on how people convey messages by how they move, and even how they sit. (Oh, which reminds me, I ‘ve been thinking about watching that series, “Lie To Me”, do you think it’s good?)

Interviewing has been quite a challenge, and up until lately, has been a Waterloo of sorts. Speaking in Tagalog has been, well, different from what I’ve been used to, but I suppose I’m much better at it now, than compared to how I did 9 months ago. (And before that, I would just nod my head if someone talked to me in…). I’m working on it, though. How hard can it be? :-)

I’m a work in progress, I should say… I think it’s a fun language to learn, though. :-) I’m working to get better at it, everyday. I was advised to have a consultant, or a senior sit in while I do an interview, so I’ll get tips on the technicalities of it. I’ll do that next time.

* i.e. The four indications for admission are the following: “Threat to self, threat to others, non-compliance with medications", and Social emergencies.”

1 comment:

  1. pssst....

    "Sinabi huwag lumabang, ayan, naligsan tuloy."

    This always comes to mind everytime I hear/read about Bisaya speakers trying Tagalog. I am just thankful that we learned this when we were younger, and that we also have another beautiful language that most Tagalog speakers can't even begin to comprehend.

    I hope to see you soon!



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