Doctor-Patient Communication, Health Communication

Improving Patient-Provider Communication: Meet Crystal Bentley

Last week, Crystal Bentley, RN, second-year Master of Public Health student in the UNC Gillings School, joined our class to share with us her interests and work in health communication.

Crystal is currently a research assistant in the Community Engagement, AHEC, and Outreach Services department of the UNC Health Sciences Library where she is developing provider-facing health literacy training modules. The goal of her work is to improve patient-provider communication and patient knowledge.

This is not a recent interest of hers, however. Crystal spent the past six years working as a registered nurse in the areas of emergency medicine, public health, and collegiate campus health prior to beginning her graduate program. These experiences are what sparked her interest in patient-provider communication, patient advocacy, and shared decision making. In her daily interactions with patients, Crystal would often see a disconnect between the way patients and providers would communicate and interact with each other in the clinical setting. It was not long until she discovered her calling was to help bridge this gap within patient-provider sphere.

Some of the key takeaways from Crystal’s talk were that lack of health literacy can have both important health and financial implications. She also described the important of using plain language and being mindful of cultural sensitivity when developing health communication materials for different audiences.

Crystal Bentley is a second-year Master of Public Health student in the Department of Health Behavior at the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is also an Interdisciplinary Health Communication scholar, and will be completing her certificate next semester along with her degree program.

What are your thoughts on health literacy? What do you feel are important components of good patient-provider interaction and communication? Let us know in the comments below!

  • Caroline Reed

    I loved hearing Crystal talk in class, and found her multi-disciplinary experience and background extremely interesting. I loved hearing about how her clinical work as a nurse inspired her public health and health communication interests. I think that improving patient-provider communication is an aspect of healthcare we should focus a lot more on.