The ability to connect with patients is important for every health care provider. Right alongside sound clinical judgment and a certain level of competence, empathy is simply expected. But it’s particularly important for primary care physicians. After all, most of us will hopefully see our PCPs more than we will see hospitalists, surgeons or other specialists. That said, great primary care physicians are distinguished by their people skills and the relationships they build with their patients.
Wondering how you stack up? See if these statements sound like you:
I really enjoy talking to people...
Patients are more concerned with their primary care provider’s ability to listen and understand them than with their technical proficiency in the operating room. So it goes without saying that the best PCPs like people! And they’re comfortable and engaged when talking with them.
… and I like to get the whole story.
Unlike emergency medicine providers or other specialists who often need to be more narrowly focused, primary care providers, should be good at getting to know the whole person—from their family history to their health goals, down to the most personal of details. PCPs who have a complete picture of their patient's health can better take the lead on coordinating care between multiple providers and ultimately deliver first-hand care that’s more thorough and supportive of preventative health.
I don’t judge.
Strong patient relationships are built on trust. Effective primary care physicians honor that trust by listening without judgment and by taking their patients’ values into consideration in every exchange.
I have a natural drive to help others.
With a growing and aging population, we can expect to see a huge increase in demand for primary care services in the near future. In fact, according to a recent report released by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the U.S. will experience a shortfall of primary care physicians estimated between 14,900 and 35,600 by 2025. This shortage makes it immensely valuable for locum tenens physicians to be willing to cover multiple clinics, work different shift times and ultimately to alleviate an overburdened healthcare system. Working in locum tenens positions through Indian Health Services and community health clinics goes a long way to help patients in underserved areas in our country and can be among the most rewarding experiences of your career.
Sound like the right move for you?
Primary care is a great fit for “people people,” and locum tenens is a way to broaden your experience, quench a thirst for adventure and answer an altruistic calling.