The Performance of Medicine: Techniques From the Stage to Optimize the Patient Experience and Restore the Joy of Practicing Medicine

Bob Baker

Publisher: Best Job Productions Pages: 239 Price: (hardcover) $26.57 ISBN: 9780999616901 Reviewed: June, 2018 Author Website: Visit »

A physician skilled in performance art offers medical professionals his techniques and strategies to better connect with their patients in this well-crafted, engaging and informative book.

Author Bob Baker has performed professionally for years as a magician and ventriloquist, beginning from the time he was looking for extra money for medical school. In the nearly 35 years that followed, while working as an internist and gastroenterologist on Long Island, Baker found that he developed better communication with patients by incorporating his performance skills. Yes, acting.

Baker uses what he deems the same approach as Sir Lawrence Olivier (“acting from the outside in”), to layer “practical acting techniques on top of our authentic behavior to create a better experience for both patients and us.” The techniques are many, but include conscious listening while observing, moving and responding in a fully engaged manner, and learning how to give  patients the proper attention despite having to make an excessive number of notations (for insurance reasons) on the computer. Even when feeling down, he notes, acting “as if”—meaning as if you were fine—can actually change your mood and performance. “If you act as your best doctor self in every way, you will be your best doctor self.”

This is a unique approach, and the book is highly readable, friendly in style, and buzzes with energy. The descriptions are easy to understand and the chapters flow fluidly, each one ending with a succinct summary of the chapter details. When appropriate, Baker also gives credit to others who have helped him to develop a positive patient encounter. As a bonus at book’s end, he concisely highlights—chapter by chapter–all the pertinent details so that readers can flip there for a quick reference down the road.

In short, in this era of managed care, which overshadows so much of physicians’ time and responsibilities, Baker offers a valuable and insightful guide geared to satisfying both doctor and patient.

Also available as an ebook.

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