Interview techniques for the Cardiac Examination

The interview is designed to be a fact gathering session for the health profession. It is not designed to elicit fear or anxiety so we are trained to help relax and subconsciously give us great information in order to help. There are specific things we need to know in order to help diagnose and ultimately treat your condition. When we start the process we know nothing except that you want help. That is the basis of seeking our help and we know that, however we don’t know the details and the process is designed to elicit those answers. Typically it should be about 15 minutes to 30 minutes.

As we sit to talk and ask questions there is a lot of anxiety and negative thoughts that must be broken down. The biggest reason for that anxiety initially is the fact that we are all strangers and there is no trust yet. In order for what we call a therapeutic exchange to take place, trust has to be established. Trust has to be in place pretty much with in the first few minutes and once the trust has started we can move to the next stage.

It may seem natural to talk and exchange ideas, however the ability to understand what is said is communication. True communication is not natural and must be approached scientifically. The process is broken down into 4 phases. Firstly the introduction is quite simply the opening phase and starts the trust process.

Secondly, the next step is the working phase where specific open ended questions or closed ended questions are asked to help elicit answers. Open ended questions are used to gather narrative type answers and the use of silence is necessary to help the patient think about answers. Closed ended questions are used to obtain specific answers and help move it along.

Thirdly, another tool to elicit information is the non-verbal cues that people give. Learning to identify non-verbal cues and then use them as information takes skill and a lot of patience. Once the health professional has that skill then it moves along faster needing less verbal information and ultimately saves time. Which is critical in the emergency setting.

Lastly, the process is concluded. Then the health professional moves to the physical examination and documents the whole process. Typically, it is bad form to fill out forms while asking questions during the interview. It is saved until the end and that allows true communication to occur and with that comes greater understanding.

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