5 Steps to Renewing the Joy of Being a Physician

For many doctors, they chose their path in life not for a career, but because of a calling.

The desire to help others and make a meaningful difference in the world is a daily event when you are treating those who need medical care.

But as the generations of doctors have shifted, so too has the actual role of the physician.

These days, for patients, seeing a doctor is usually a very brief experience.

Dr Stephen Schmiff estimates that each doctor typically visits 25 patients a day, with each patient receiving approximately 12 minutes of face-to-face time. Worse still, during this time most of the doctors’ focus is consumed both with electronic reporting and compliance.

Interestingly, talents with computer-based reporting are not what patients look for in a doctor.

According the Health Grades reporting system, which tracks patient satisfaction with their doctor, the main criteria that patients value are:

– Level of trust in provider’s decisions
– How well provider explains medical conditions
– How well provider listens and answers questions
– Whether the physician spends an appropriate amount of time

Another Twitter-based study conducted by Dr Ashish Jha shows the same results from the general public. The following results of his ‘What Makes A Good Doctor’ were generated from the 200 responses.

It is interesting to note that the Top 4 answers have to do with human interaction rather than medical knowledge or experience.
It is common knowledge that the Physician’s role is becoming increasingly bureaucratic.  This can drive them away from their purpose, and even out of medicine entirely.

A 2012 survey of 5000 physicians by The Doctors showed that only 11 percent of Physicians surveyed would recommend their profession to a friend or relative.

To this end, here are 5 steps that doctors can take to realign themselves and to hopefully bring back the joy of being a doctor.

1) Rewarding relationship with patients

It is often easy to view a person as a group of maladies and complaints rather than a human. A focus first on building trust, just as patients have asked for, will result in more of it. A simple minute or two of face-to-face discussion about the person before getting to the reason for the visit can make a big difference.

2) Sense of deep purpose

Every doctor had their own reason for joining the profession. This reason was the driving force behind their commitment to medical school, residency and growing their own clinic. Revisiting this purpose, focusing back on why you started is a great way to refocus and realign your daily actions with your purpose.

3) Friendly team interactions

Patients are obviously the focus of most of the doctor’s time during the day. But a friendly, warm relationship with your team will do a great deal to help the patients enjoy their time in your clinic. Taking a few minutes each day to talk with your team as people, to give them encouragement and thanks will do wonders to boost the team morale and camaraderie.

4) Value versus volume

The way each doctor practices is a personal choice, and the method by which you reach your financial aims can be varied. Use of new technology for scheduling, record keeping, and initial patient interaction can be a way to relieve the waiting room volume and increase patient trust. The value to your patient is convenience, transparency and a more fulfilling relationship with you, their doctor.

5) Personalized delivery of healthcare

With technology at the core of the problem when it comes to doctor overwhelm, it is counter-intuitive to think that technology might also provide a solution. More personalized communication through Telemedicine and virtual visits can be a great way to connect with patients remotely and to do follow up visits conveniently and effectively.

These 5 simple steps can offer a gateway to a deeper sense of fulfillment in your career as a physician. There is a deep joy to be found in the serving and healing of patients, and the practice medicine is the ultimate opportunity to make it a reality.