Learning How to Communicate Effectively

People diagnosed with hearing loss often have complex diagnoses because there are so many causes and forms of hearing loss.  Therefore, when presenting my research, I think it will be important to provide a thorough background with explanations of different types of hearing loss and how they are specifically or uniquely treated. Furthermore, many people do not realize how expensive treatments like cochlear implants are or how costly it is to keep up with hearing aids expenses. Cost can be a huge barrier to patients’ ability to receive care. Giving my audience a thorough background of these topics, with limited jargon, will help relay my point.

The medical field is an extremely interdisciplinary field where you are constantly working with a team of people with all kinds of expertise. In a hospital, it is vital to look at a patient’s situation from different angles to obtain the proper diagnosis and execute and effective treatment plan. During the past two years in nursing school, I have learned many techniques for communicating with patients, including patient-teaching strategies. Normally, these strategies are used to promote patient adherence and ensure understanding of a treatment plan/disease process. We are taught to sit down at eye level and engage active listening skills while talking with patients in order to address all concerns and questions.

Since my project focuses on hearing loss and access to treatment among young patients, I hope to work with a plethora of researchers in the future. Collaborators may consist of people from the Deaf community contributing input, researchers developing better technology for hard-of-hearing patients, and even researchers focusing on health disparities and inequalities on a broad scale. Furthermore, many media outlets, for example, do not always accommodate for deaf and hard-of-hearing populations through outlets such as closed captioning. Inclusion of people of all ability levels in daily activities is important to achieve.

One barrier that has become extremely prevalent this past year is communicating virtually. Without the cues and natural flow of in-person communication, I find it is difficult to engage with an audience and share ideas. I have found this to be true in online class and even participating in presentations or conferences. The picture below is a screenshot from my recorded presentation for NCUR 2021 this past spring. While it was an amazing opportunity to present at a national conference, the online setting left me feeling a bit unsatisfied, especially because participants lost that natural flow of communication and the opportunity to converse even after presentations ended. This year has taught me to take obstacles like this one as they come and learn to work through them despite hardships.

This program has already forced me to communicate my research to the other fellows in a way that is easy to understand without much background knowledge. As we continue to do this each week when meeting new members, it becomes significantly easier. All of the fellows come from different educational backgrounds with varying interests, so it has been super beneficial to practice summarizing our work with each other in a casual setting.

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