Family doctors, also known as primary care physicians, are an essential part of the healthcare landscape. They are responsible for looking after the health of individuals and families on a day-to-day basis, diagnosing illnesses, and referring patients to specialists as and when required. They also play a role in enabling individuals to lead a healthy lifestyle and avoid (or manage) chronic ailments.
As a rule, family doctors should like interacting with people and listening to their concerns, as this is one of the primary aspects of their profession. The quality of the doctor-patient relationship is extremely important in this context, as family doctors typically treat the same family over the course of many years (or even decades). And the primary care physician is responsible, to a great extent, for building a deep connection and absolute trust with his or her patients.
Keeping these factors in mind, we can narrow down some of the key traits that make for a great family doctor. Read on to know more about the characteristics you should be looking for when choosing a primary care physician for yourself and your loved ones.
One of the most important qualities that a primary care physician needs to possess is that of being a good listener. Ideally, you should always leave the doctor’s office feeling like you’ve had an effective conversation which resulted in mutual understanding, rather than feeling as though you’ve just stepped out of a lecture hall. A family doctor must be patient enough to carefully listen to the concerns of his or her patients, learn about their symptoms, and understand the type of treatment options they’re looking for.
Not every patient is the same, and a doctor who pays attention to his or her patients would know whether someone is prone to exaggerating or suppressing their problems, whether they are proactive in researching their symptoms or rely more on medical consultations, and all the other differences that might exist between individual patients that would affect the way they need to be diagnosed and treated. Family doctors who possess this quality usually produce the best treatment outcomes for patients.
Comfort and Trustworthiness
It is very important for you to feel comfortable and safe in the presence of your family doctor or primary care physician. This is because doctors who can build trust with their patients can learn enough about them so as to provide them with the best possible care. A family doctor must ensure that his or her patients feel comfortable enough to share embarrassing of sensitive information such as sexual health issues, sudden weight gain, problematic bowel movements, etc.
Moreover, the patient should also feel comfortable sharing information that is not directly related to their health, such as their family life, personal beliefs, financial problems, etc. This can be helpful because a family doctor who knows you’re facing a financial crunch can keep that in mind when prescribing tests or medication.
Similarly, they will keep your personal attributes and personality traits in mind when recommending a specialist for your care. However, all this can only happen if you trust your family doctor enough to share these details with them. This is why trustworthiness and comfort are some of the key traits of a great primary care physician.
A family doctor must have great communication skills for a number of reasons. First, medical issues and treatment procedures are complex topics that can be hard to understand for the average person. Moreover, you might be feeling especially vulnerable and confused when you are at the doctor’s office, seeking treatment for a debilitating ailment or chronic health condition.
Under such circumstances, you would want a doctor who can clearly and easily explain to you what the problem is and what the ideal course of treatment would be. Moreover, you want to be under the care of a physician who is patient and understanding, and who wouldn’t get irritated if you ask for clarifications and bring up your doubts. Find a family doctor who can clearly state his thoughts and ideas and is willing to explain the intricacies of a situation as many times as required.
Respect for Your Time
You should always try and find a family doctor who respects your time and keeps you in the loop with regard to appointments, treatment plans, diagnostic tests, etc. This is because you will be working with your family doctor for years to come, and you don’t want to be stuck with a doctor who might leave you hanging with no notice. Make a note of whether the doctor is letting you into their office or leaving you out in the waiting room for a long time.
Check whether or not they’re allowing you to take the time you need to explain your symptoms and concerns during an appointment, or if they seem to be getting impatient with your questions. Do they tell you when you can get back your lab results and contact you when these have arrived? All of these factors will help you understand whether or not the doctor respects your time and is willing to invest their own time to help you in the time of need.
If you’ve found a family doctor or primary care physician who meets all the above-mentioned criteria, then you should do everything you can to retain their services and maintain a relationship of mutual trust and respect. You can also search online for some of the best and most reputed family doctors in your area, in order to know your options and get some essential information before making an appointment.