Benjamin Keidan, M.D., incoming Chief Medical Officer and former Medical
Director of Quality and Population Health for outpatient primary care
and specialty clinics
Boulder Community Health has launched a a system-wide initiative called
“BCH Listens: Every Person, Every Time” — an opportunity
for personal and professional growth centered on refining our communication skills.
Active listening is good medicine — research shows that providing
treatment within an emotionally supportive environment improves patient
outcomes. It's also been shown that caregivers who create real emotional
connections with their patients and their colleagues experience much deeper
job satisfaction. Learn more at
For me, listening goes back to the beginning when I first decided to go
to medical school. I wanted to connect with people and help them get better
when they were sick and also help them them thrive when they are well.
But throughout medical training and residency and sleep deprivation, there
is a focus on the head the cognitive, i.e.what’s the diagnosis,
what’s the treatment, and sometimes the listening and the empathy
can start to fall away.
As a physician, I found myself feeling a bit burned out and a bit less
impactful -- ike people weren’t responding to that kind of approach.
That’s where I really started looking at listening to improve outcomes
in patients but also improve my joy in work. The health care industry
has a crisis where people are really feeling burned out and struggling
with enjoyment and not loving their work. Really focusing on listening
is good for patients but it’s also good for providers and staff.
There is tremendous evidence that as you connect better with people they
tend to follow instructions, do what’s best for them, make healthy
changes that are best for them more effectively. A mentor of mine once
said, "No one cares how much you know until they know how much you
Whenever possible I try to before going in the room just take two deep
breaths and clear my mind of whatever was going on the last visit or the
last phone call so that I can really focus on that next person.
When we hear the comments from patients about really good experiences they’re
often, "the front desk person took an extra minute to listen"
or "the medical assistant really took the time to listen." It’s
The most exciting part of working on listening and communication with empathy
is that it very quickly, within days, started to reinvigorate the way
I started to see patients, the way I looked forward to work, and the outcomes
that I was getting. Almost immediately I started hearing feedback, "I
really noticed you were paying attention” and, "thank you for
spending time listening, that was really helpful."
Learn more at