Listening and Including — Doctor-Patient Communications

Listening and Including — Lessons from Bizchut: The Israel Human Rights Center for People with Disabilities

“If you (the doctor) do these things, I will want to come to the doctor and not be afraid … If you have the will to make it easier for me, I will find the way to overcome my fear, be healthier and we will all be better off.”

These are the opinions of a 37-year-old woman with Down syndrome who spoke with MSIH students about her life and challenges, especially when approaching health issues and health professionals. She came as a guest speaker with Bizchut: the Israel Human Rights Center for People with Disabilities. Bizchut is committed to social justice and believes that persons with all disabilities have the right to participate as fully and independently as possible in the life of the community and that society has responsibility for ensuring access and inclusion. 
As part of the first-year course “Clinical Day,” students heard firsthand about the desire for those with disabilities to be treated equally and respectfully, to be spoken to directly with clear and simple explanations — and not through a third person — and to be reassured to minimize fear and anxiety.
A cheerful greeting, patience to listen, and answering questions using clear explanations at the appropriate level all go a long way toward establish a feeling of cooperation and inclusion between the doctor and patients with disabilities.