Dr. Brence Sell Talks About Building Trust With Pediatric Patients

Dr. Brence Sell

March 12, 2021

Dr. Brence Sell Talks About Building Trust With Pediatric Patients

Trust between patients and healthcare providers is vital. If a patient doesn’t trust a doctor, he or she may not cooperate and may also not tell doctors everything they need to know. As an anesthesiologist, Dr. Brence Sell has helped thousands of patients, including children, and has learned how to build rapport. Now, he’s going to share some insights for building trust with children.

“Building trust sometimes takes practice,” Dr. Brence Sell says. “I’m better at building trust now than when I started out, and I have found that it is a skill like any other that must be honed and practiced.”

Medical school, as well as nursing and other medical training programs can be extremely difficult and fast-paced. While some teachers and programs may try to impart skills that will help you build trust, there’s often simply not enough time to provide all the training needed. Doctors and other medical practitioners have a lot to learn while they’re studying.

“Some of my teachers and mentors over the years have emphasized how important it is to build trust, and they’ve offered some useful tips too,” Dr. Brence Sell says. “But a lot of what I learned I picked up on my own. I encourage you to take a moment and think about the people you trust and don’t trust. What’s different?”

Motivations are often important. If someone is trying to sell you something, their motivation is to earn money. That might not line up with your own ambitions, so this can seed distrust. Doctors often are not selling anything, but they should quickly convey what they do want to accomplish, which is provide top-notch, safe medical care.

“I often start by explaining to both parents and children that my number one goal is to ensure their safety and maximize their health,” Dr. Brence Sell points out. “Sometimes, I tell them that I went to medical school specifically to help people. That’s why I wanted to be a doctor.”

When it comes to building trust, it’s not just what you say but also how you say it and present yourself.

“When I first meet patients, I typically first focus on the person undergoing the procedure, whether it’s a child or adult. I say hello, I shake hands or ask for a high five, and I let them know who I am,” Dr. Brence Sell says. “After that, if I am working with a child, I loop the parents in and greet them.”

Dr. Brence Sell Discusses The Importance of Eye Contact With Children

Eye contact is also essential for building trust. Untrustworthy people or folks with bad intentions often avoid eye contact. Dr. Brence Sell says it’s important to literally see eye to eye with patients, including children.

“I often get on level with my patients so we can see each other eye to eye,” Dr. Brence Sell notes. “With children, that sometimes means bending down a bit. You might not want to slouch, but I find that seeing a child on their level helps to build trust.”

Dr. Brence Sell also reminds everyone that they have to be truthful when it comes to medicine.

“One big thing in anesthesiology is you typically can’t eat before a procedure as you could vomit and choke while you’re under,” Dr. Brence Sell. “I try to put it gently, but I’m also firm when explaining why it’s important to tell the truth and to let me know if you’ve had any food. If you lie and have had food, you’re putting yourself or a loved one at great risk.”