As you’ve probably experienced, interviewing patients is fun and also anxiety producing. If all you had to do was listen well, it would be easier, right? But there’s that long list of information you’re supposed to gather.
Thus the fundamental tension between establishing rapport and engaging the patient, and at the same time gathering the data you need.
To help you manage that tension, here are two templates. You can print them and put them on a clipboard to have in front of you and write notes on while you’re interviewing.
The simplified version
Here’s one I’ve simplified to represent the “bare minimum” of information to be gathered, so that you can focus on establishing rapport, and accurate mirroring of the patient’s concerns and affect. At your stage in training it’s crucial to be able to fully engage your patient. You’ll master the details later. more important now, in my view, to know how to help a patient feel completely comfortable and understood. If you have any doubt in your ability to do that, watch the Carl Rogers video and look at how he uses paraphrase and a determined intent to fully understand the patient as a way to move the interview along. (This is the same video referenced in the Psychotherapysection).
In this version I’ve included some phrasing that might help you relax and keep that focus. The Simplified Template.
The full version
This one was drawn up by a skillful resident who knows how to stay fully engaged with the patient even while getting all these details. Not easy. But it’s a nice 2-page guide to keep track of all the details of a thorough psychiatric interview (except the Mental Status Exam; more on that later.