Five Things Every Prospective Locum Needs to Know .pdf
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5 Ways Family Medicine Locums
Can Make Patients Comfortable
Family doctors have a unique opportunity to practice medicine in a way that affects not only the patient but
also the patient's entire family. In fact, that's one of the draws of family medicine. Being able to treat the entire
family. But there is give-and-take involved. Family medicine jobs require doctors to put their patients at ease in
order to treat them effectively.
Successful family doctors with established practices get the hang of making patients comfortable with enough
practice. Locums do not have that luxury. They have to implement strategies that will make patients feel
comfortable even though they don't know the patients as personally as their regular doctors know them.
Here are five ways family medicine locums can accomplish the daunting task of making patients comfortable:
1. Listen More, Speak Less
It has been said that the average family doctor interrupts the patient for the first time just 9 seconds after the
visit begins. Whether that's true or not, doctors do have a habit of not spending enough time listening. They
are so constrained by the clock that they feel they must keep moving as quickly as possible.
The family medicine locum has a bit more freedom to take that extra time. Listening more and speaking less is
a good starting point. It puts the patient at ease by helping him or her to come to the realization that the
doctor is actually listening and paying attention.
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2. Speak the Patient's Language
The second tip applies to bilingual doctors. If a locum can speak the same language as the patient, it will go a
long way toward putting that patient at ease The doctor does not necessarily need to be completely fluent, as
long as he or she is conversational. Patients are known to respond better when they can speak to doctors in
their own language.
3. Ask Leading Questions
It is easy for a doctor to listen to a list of symptoms and quickly offer a diagnosis. But that leaves patients
feeling as though they have no input. The locum can address this problem by asking patients leading questions.
Asking leading questions is a strategy designed to help patients reach the same conclusions the doctor has
already reached, providing a sense of inclusion and participation.
4. Involve the Whole Family
Even when an individual family member visits the doctor for a single problem, that problem invariably affects
the entire family in one way or another. Locum doctors, because of their lack of individual knowledge, are
better off addressing the illness from a family perspective. For example, a sick child may need to do certain
things in order to get better. But the doctor can involve parents and siblings in helping to care for the patient
and administer any recommended treatments. By involving the whole family, the doctor is demonstrating an
interest in that family.
5. Seeking Means to Identify
Locums can make good connections with patients by finding ways to identify with them. For instance, every
doctor has suffered through his or her own medical issues over the years. A doctor who has broken a bone can
easily empathize with a patient in the same situation. Mentioning the doctor's history will help him or her
connect with the patient via a shared experience. That sort of identification can put patients at ease more
easily than anything else.
Family medicine locums don't have the same kind of opportunities to get to know patients. But they can still
make them comfortable through the way they interact with them. Hopefully, these five tips are helpful to that
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