Medicine has become a tough endeavor recently, as the physician is routinely under many pressures. Institutions and employers want as many patients seen as possible in an effort to increase their bottom line, while staff to assist the physician are often kept at a minimum to keep costs low. Tests and procedures should not be ordered or they need to be ordered more frequently, depending on who is paying the bill, and of course the physician should know which is the pertinent case. The physician also is getting paid too much and does not work enough hours. The physician also should do administrative work, read more current journals, and be responsible for quality improvement projects for the practice. They also must attend continuing education courses and constantly recertify their qualifications. The demands are endless.
As for the patient, they only want a good physician that can solve their problems quickly. Now that medicine has become more of a business, finding a good and caring physician is even harder. Physicians often feel they need to be done seeing a patient as quickly as possible. This is just the opposite of the needs of the patient. Many physicians have just given up with the pressures of the business, and have become mediocre at all aspects of medicine.
Striking a Compassion Balance
Finding the physician who has found the balance in medicine and who has the desire to provide high quality care is difficult. There is no magical way to find those special physicians, and word of mouth is often still the best method. There are rating services, but unfortunately most physicians try to hide from them and may not be very well represented. Furthermore, many of the best physicians let their skill be their only voice, and the best physicians often feel no need to advertise, as their work should speak for themselves.
In any profession, 90% of the practitioners are good, and 10% are exceptional. In medicine, this also holds true. The best physicians find a way to balance all the needs of the changes in the business of providing care. The most telling sign is that the patient always comes first. The physician will know his patients and their history, and will be willing to develop a joint treatment plan. They are up-to-date on research, and can explain complex medical problems without being flustered. Often they are experienced and can figure out what is wrong and what needs to be done quickly.
Medicine has become increasingly complex for both the patient and physician. Finding good medical care is difficult. Word of mouth, and sometimes the Internet can help find the better caregivers. Even good physicians are hampered by their surroundings and the business aspects of their offices. Every visit may not run smoothly, but having a physician that really knows how to help you is worth some inconveniences. Look for a physician who is mature, board certified in his specialty, and is prepared whenever they see you.
Thomas Cohn, MD
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