Jasmine Pringle (recorder), Tyler Couch (pager sample)

This sound recording is a simulation of a doctor’s pager going off. The pager sound is really important in the healthcare system as it is how a doctor is notified of an important call. While pagers allow doctors to connect with new patients the sound can be disruptive to communication with current patients. The pager reaches out, calling for practitioners, emergency responders, or anyone who can provide immediate and satisfactory assistance for those in need pulling them away from the work they were doing at the time. Hearing the sound of a pager as a patient can highlight the urgency of their health circumstances, as the incessant sound reminds them of the hospital setting they are in. The number of patients a doctor is responsible for decreases the care they are able to give individually. The pager represents the inability of a doctor to give their full attention to a single patient, leading to an inevitable barrier between the two.

Jasmine Pringle (recorder), Namratha Atluri, Tyler Couch (conversation)

This is a sound recording of a simulated conversation between a young adult Indian female immigrant patient and an American male medical student in the lobby of the Duke Student Wellness Center (conversation based on exact real-life experience). In this recording, the immigrant patient, whose native language is Telugu, is attempting to explain her illness and nature of her pain to the medical student, who is trying to help her by suggesting different English descriptive words for pain. However, due to the patient’s lack of English proficiency (her lack of knowledge regarding the right English words to exactly capture her pain), she is slipping into her native language, and the medical student is unable to understand what she is saying. This recording captures the discomfort, embarrassment, and frustration faced by immigrant patients who cannot express their medical stories and feelings in English, and it also depicts the confusion and helplessness of medical providers when they simply cannot understand their patients. As a nation with many immigrants whose first language is not English, the US healthcare system has many incidents where language is the barrier to communication and the establishment of a close and trusting relationship between patients and physicians. 

Jasmine Pringle (recorder), Michael Davis, Namratha Atluri, Tyler Couch (typing)

This is a sound recording of a young adult male patient’s iPhone text message conversation in his appointment room at the Duke Student Wellness Center. In this recording, the patient receives several simultaneous text message sound notifications from a group chat, and he responds to them by typing out replies on his iPhone. This disturbance due to mobile phone use is very common in the healthcare system, either from the physician/ health professional, patient, or friends/ family that accompany or visit the patient. This sound describes how increasing reliance on and use of technological gadgets such as iPhones can hinder human relationships and natural conversations with people face to face. The constant sound notifications and texting as heard in this recording can not only distract the patient from giving the physician a full account of his illness and narrative, but it may also frustrate the physician and prevent him/ her from showing full appreciation of and empathy towards the patient. Ultimately, the text message sounds serve as a barrier for the patient and physician to establish effective communication and a trusting relationship.

Jasmine Pringle (recorder), Michael Davis (typing)

This is a sound recording of typing on a desktop computer keyboard at the patient resource station in the waiting lobby of the Duke Cancer Center (3rd floor). In addition to the waiting lobby, the sound of typing is prevalent in many aspects of the healthcare system, including in the appointment rooms where physicians or trained scribes take electronic notes of the patient-physician conversation. While this sound implies documentation of important points of a conversation, it can also hinder conversation between a patient and physician. Hearing the sound can make patients anxious in the appointment room or make them feel uncomfortable that their words are being noted down. The need to type and take notes on what the patient is saying may also distract the physician from actively listening and participating in the conversation. Ultimately, typing serves as a barrier to a close and trusting relationship between the patient and physician.

Jasmine Pringle (recorder), Tyler Couch (coughing)

This is a sound recording of a young adult male patient coughing in his appointment room at the Duke Student Wellness Center. This sound shows how the patient’s illness, which prompted the doctor visit in the first place, can also hinder his attempt at seeking proper medical care. The constant coughing as heard in the recording can not only interrupt the patient’s conversation with his physician, but it can also create a negative environment with the patient feeling uncomfortable or embarrassed and the physician feeling distracted or perhaps frustrated. Ultimately, the coughing serves as a barrier to effective communication between the patient and physician, and not knowing the patient’s complete narrative can prevent the physician from adequately treating the patient.