If you're sitting in the medical office lobby awaiting the magical words "the doctor will see you now," it may be time to adjust your expectations.
The doctor won't be in for awhile. You'll see a nurse first. A nurse who will take your vitals, ask you for the pertinent details, and do the really heavy lifting.
In fact, in a 2005 study published in the Annals of Family Medicine, the average physician was found to greatly overestimate how much time he or she actually spends face-to-face with a patient.
And when is the last time you called the doctor's office and got the good doctor to come to the phone?
In a piece by Registered Nurse Theresa Brown in this week's New York Times, a doctor is quoted telling her,"Patients come to me for care, Theresa, not you.”
But is he even close to the mark?
A doctor's reputation and his or her affiliation with your insurance company surely play a role in getting you in the door, but if the person you spend the most time with inside the office is driving you crazy, you don't stay. Sorry, doc, but that's the nurse.
Or, if you're lucky, you have the best of both worlds with a nurse practitioner. Haven't met one of these wonders of modern medicine?
A practitioner bridges the gap between the two with advanced schooling in patient care that allow him or her to provide healthcare services similar to those of a doctor, yet they have the core focus of a nurse. Can you say this chick (or dude) rocks? A nurse practitioner has graduate, advanced education and clinical training beyond their registered nurse preparation, but their approach remains patient-centric. As in about YOU, the patient, the one who's paying oodles of dollars and missing half a day of work waiting in the lobby.
The mission of nurses in general is health promotion, disease prevention, health education, and counseling -- the sort of services that will keep you out of that waiting room in the long run.
So it may be the doctor who gets you in the door. But it's the nurse who makes your visit worth all that time.
Do you care more about the nursing staff or the doctors?
Image via timefornurses/Flickr