A few weeks ago, an organization at my school held a Skype call with a physician from the US. She specialized in family medicine originally but recently took a few courses to open a wellness clinic with integrative medicine. Her talk really struck a chord with me. In a nutshell, integrative medicine essentially deals with the whole person, not just specifically the health problem the patient presents with. This type of medicine focuses on whole-body wellness (physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, etc), which I believe is INCREDIBLY important in overall healthcare. One point that she made was that during her family medicine practice, she had about 3000 patients in total and was only able to spend 10-15 min with them at max. With her wellness clinic, she only sees about 5 patients per day and has about 70 in total, but is able to spend up to an hour with each patient and REALLY gets to know them and their health concerns. Oftentimes, a prescription is only a “temporary fix” to the problem, which is why it is important to really talk with the patient to see what the real problem is.
I believe that this is what medicine is all about. Medicine is not just wearing a white coat. As physicians, we need to make the extra effort to have a personal connection with our patients, whether we have 10 minutes with them or 2 hours. I understand it is not feasible to completely dedicate yourself to a patient, especially with some physicians having thousands of patients. However, I believe that taking some extra time to get to the root of a problem could really change the course of healthcare in the long run.
Genuine physicians don’t go into medicine for the money or for the thousands of patients. We come into medicine so we have the power to make a difference in even just one patient’s life. I always say that if I can make a difference for one person, I have done something that is worth it. I think as future physicians we should try our hardest to make a more personal connection with our future patients and perhaps we can change the stigma of physicians nowadays. There are people I know who won’t go to the doctor’s office simply because they don’t want to feel like another number and many people don’t truly feel heard by their doctors. We should be focusing on whole-body health and wellness, and making an effort to get to know our patients, no matter what field of medicine we go into!