A Registered Dietitians Take on Communication
“I was always interested in health and fitness since as long as I can remember”, Said Brittney Horn, RD. More importantly, she knew she had a passion to help improve the lives of her loved ones and others who struggled with health challenges. This passion led her to choose the field of Nutrition as her life-long career.
Brittney Horn is an Outpatient Dietitian that works for University Health Hospital in Shreveport, LA. She received her Bachelors and Masters in Food and Nutrition at the University of Southern Mississippi. She also completed her dietetic internship with her alum as well. Brittney has been working in nutrition for the past 5 years and is surprised at how fast that time has past! I guess that’s what happens when you are doing something you love!
Most Dietitians meet with patients each day. Each person is different and they must adapt communication skills so that they are as effective as possible. Brittney is no exception, she claimed that many of these skills were learned in her Nutrition Counseling class that she took in college. One unique skill she learned was how to use the SMOG readability formula to improve the way she wrote things for people on lower reading levels. This formula is used to assess a document based on features such as how many multiple syllable words existed in that work. Using this information, it can estimate how many years of education one needs to read that document. “I make a lot of handouts, pamphlets, and packets for my patients….I have a low literacy population so you have to be careful with verbiage and word usage”, said Brittney.
The Importance of Communication
Brittney says that good communication is “very important” in her field. Proper communication ensures that a patient receives the right care. She explained that in the health field there are many “gaps” when it comes to patient care. By this she means that a patient comes in contact with many different healthcare workers and each one must communicate with the next so as not to leave a gap. She expressed that these communications can be as important as “life or death” in some cases.
Communicating with Technology
Technology is prevalent all around us and is especially evident in the hospitals. “I don’t do much handwriting. Our hospital is all electronic records at this point”, Brittney said. She talked about the need for technology and its improvements but says that “being able to do face-to-face communication is key”. She explained how much easier she thinks it is to sit at a table with colleagues and be able to quickly and efficiently communicate ideas. Although pagers seem to be a thing of the past, some things will never change. Being able to communicate with other humans without the “middle man” of technology will always be a timeless communication skill.
Ashley Gillespie, guest blogger