Health Literacy Consulting How-To Tip
February 2015

The Caring Part of Healthcare

Many of us chose the work we do because of a desire to help others. But given the overwhelming amount of workplace demands these days, this intent can sometimes get overlooked. Here are some tips to help you focus again on the caring part of healthcare.

  • Caring for others. Demonstrate caring not just with your words but also by your body language and tone of voice. When meeting in person, use eye contact and posture to show that you are paying attention. When talking by phone, add energy and enthusiasm to your voice. One way I do this is by standing up. Another way is by creating a mental image of those on the other end of the call.
  • Caring about teaching. Good health communication is more than just a recitation of facts. As you teach about a topic (be it what to eat, how to take a certain medicine, or why this test is important), keep in mind that the other person might be hearing this information for the first and perhaps only time. Teach in ways that help them learn. That may include drawing pictures or demonstrating on devices they’ll later use on their own.
  • Caring environment. Make it easy for newcomers to find you. Make sure your entrance uses familiar wording such as “Out-Patient Entrance,” not “Ambulatory Care.” Provide inside directions that newcomers can easily follow. This could be by giving out simple maps and posting signs that have consistent wording. An example is calling the public eating area either “cafeteria” or “dining room,” but not both. And when meeting in person, create a caring environment by giving the other person your full attention and not sneaking peeks at your electronic device.
  • Caring for yourself, too. It can be exhausting to care for others. Find ways to also take care of yourself. This could be by having lunch with a friend, spending quiet time alone, or doing hobbies you enjoy. By taking time to care for yourself, you’ll be more ready for the important work of caring for others.

Helen Osborne writes about these topics plus many more in her award-winning, best-selling book, Health Literacy from A to Z: Practical Ways to Communicate Your Health Message, Second Edition published by Jones & Bartlett Learning.

For permission to include Health Literacy Consulting Tips in your organization's newsletter, please contact Helen Osborne by e-mail at:, or by phone at: 508-653-1199.