Non-Technical Skills vs Therapeutic Use of Self: An Observation
In February 2011, Simulation in Healthcare ran a very interesting set of three articles about the terms nontechnical skills and human factors. Nontechnical skills, or human factors, encompass things such as teamwork and communication with patients and other members of the health care team—those things in the day-to-day workings of health care that are, well, not technical. Because of increased attention to team interactions and interprofessional education, tools are being developed to measure nontechnical skills and human factors. As a nurse, I find it very interesting that other members of the health care team have invented terms virtually devoid of humanity for what nurses might call therapeutic use of self. Nontechnical skills is understood to mean communication with a patient or with other team members or behavioral performance skills that are effective, efficient, and provide quality and safety for patients. Nontechnical skills is a fairly sterile term; human factors is only a little less sterile. provides an in-depth analysis of the move from therapeutic use of self to the medical gaze. Before there were hospitals or medical or nursing schools, those calling themselves physicians and nurses made patient house calls. Prior to the discovery of antibiotics, these practitioners had very little to offer a patient other than therapeutic use of self, that is, listening, humoring, consoling, touching, and some rudimentary medical knowledge.