Establishing A Doctor-Patient Relationship for Locum Tenens Physicians
Locum tenens physicians are unlike full-time hospital and medical facility physicians in the way that they can practice in their respective fields. Locum tenens physicians are hired on a temporary basis, acting as fill-ins for open staff positions or to support the facility’s regular staff during busy seasons. Typically, they only work for up to a few days or a few months which can make it difficult for the physician to establish a strong doctor-patient relationship.
Although there are several reasons as to why physicians choose to work with a locum tenens agency – extra income, career freedom, education – one of the more important contributing factors is the opportunity to provide medical assistance to needy individuals who can’t receive quality healthcare. The lure of providing a noble service can often overshadow the reality that the relationship the locum tenens physician has with his/her patients is on borrowed time.
The Importance of the Doctor-Patient Relationship
So, what exactly is the level of significance between physicians and their patients? Well, it’s important to note that seeing a physician for anything as minor as a scraped knee to a major ailment such as blood clots can be a scary situation for the patient. After all, it’s not outside the realm of possibility for an individual who eats well, exercises regularly and maintains a healthy lifestyle, finding themselves diagnosed with something potentially life-altering. There’s obviously a statistical factor that has to be taken into consideration, but just telling someone that you’re seeing the doctor invokes a sense of concern.
Outside of providing medical treatment to a patient, a physician tends to become a sort of therapist after some time. It’s partly because to effectively treat a patient, a good doctor must be aware of the patient’s lifestyle. For instance, say an individual shows up to a medical facility seeking treatment for insomnia. It would be important for their physician to understand what kind of stress they might be under and their exercise and work habits. If they have a family and what their family is like may play an added role in their stress. These are things that the physician takes into consideration while initially treating their patient and maintaining care. While it’s true that they may not spend hour-long sessions listening to a patient’s problems, they do often talk during the visit about things going on in the patient’s life, which is an important factor in establishing a solid doctor-patient relationship.
Building the Bridge
It’s a locum tenens physician’s responsibility to work towards establishing a relationship with their patients despite the temporary nature of their work. Strong communication and understanding between a doctor and their patient is crucial to the treatment process. After all, patients tend to trust doctors more when they feel that they can relate to them. For locum tenens physicians, establishing a doctor-patient relationship built on trust can be a challenging endeavor. However, there are measures that can be taken to create a comfortable atmosphere for both parties. Some locum tenens physicians have found success with:
- Displaying more empathy for the patient’s condition
- Being vocal and more comforting about treatment (explaining it in detail and why it will work)
- Taking more time to understand the patient’s medical history and their current health condition
Essentially, this means that a locum tenens physician must become a bit more involved than they normally would as a full-time staff member. Assuming of course, that they wish to develop a relationship with the patient during their time on assignment. It’s important to note that locum tenens emergency medical physicians are in a sense, excluded from the need to build a strong relationship with their patients. This is not to say that they don’t want to get to know their patients more, it’s simply a matter of their patients not being regular visitors, and because the ED typically sees a shorter duration of visits. Generally, the emergency medicine physician is a last-minute resort for a patient to see and is mostly visited by patients with life-threatening injuries.
Regardless of how long a locum tenens physician is going to be on assignment, the support of the hospital/medical facility is going to be key in helping the physician become acclimated. They also benefit from the resources of their locum tenens agency. Quality recruiters will do all they can to ensure that the physician is in the best position possible to deliver the care they need to their patients.
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