As an allied health professional, I know that communication is an important tool. You need to communicate well with other disciplinary teams to deliver a holistic care for the patient. You also need to communicate well with your patient to understand their concerns. During my student days, however, I always received feedback from my clinical supervisors that I was too quiet and I needed to speak up more. In an environment that requires teamwork, I was finding it difficult to settle myself into the team fast enough to feel comfortable.

That changed when I had the opportunity to visit an overseas hospital in the United Kingdom for a month for clinical placement. One day, a patient I was caring for during that period brought her grandchildren along with her. She saw me and motioned for me to come over. It was her last day of treatment. She held my hands and said, “Girls, this is Atiqah. She’s the girl I was telling you about who is from Singapore. She’s been with me from the start till the end. And I am so thankful for that.”

I was and am still a very reserved person. Having a patient acknowledge my individual presence when I’m part of a team was encouraging. I’d never felt noticed in that way. Though we didn’t talk much, she said I listened to her very well, despite being a part of a team.

It was then when I realized I don’t need to talk as much as extroverts do to be good at my job. As an introvert, I listen well. This is my strength. And this is how I will contribute as a team member and as a healthcare professional for my patients. Sometimes, people forget that communication also involves listening. In today’s busy and extroverted world, I vow to be that listening ear for my patients.

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