The Last Word
Engagement: What Right Looks Like
with Lauren Musick, PA-C, Physician Assistant, Express Care, Columbia Valley Community Health Wenatchee, WA and Rocky Mollère, MD, Internal Medicine and Pediatrics, Ochsner Health System New Orleans, LA
Engagement Saves Lives...
Sometimes care providers may be the only people in a patient’s life who care about them or offer a different perspective on a new and healthier way of living. Their ability to build trust, individualize care, and partner effectively can transform a patient’s life.
“Recently, I had a visit with a patient who was a ‘frequent flier’ that I’d seen numerous times over the past few years. I commented on how nice it was to see her and noted that it had been awhile since our last visit. I asked her how her summer was going and about what was new in her life.
She smiled and began to explain how she’d recently stopped using drugs and had in fact been clean for more than three months. She said that for the first time in her life, things were actually going well, and she’d just started a job that she loved. She was even thinking about going back to school.
Then she looked at me and said, ‘I’m actually here to thank you. I used to come in here all the time with various complaints trying to get you to prescribe me pain pills…but you always said no. This is what finally pushed me to go to rehab and get clean.’
So many times, visits with patients who seem to be ‘seeking’ can be extremely difficult. Even when you do your best to explain other treatment options that actually may work better for a condition, they can yell, curse, and slam doors. It can seem much easier to write the script and send them on their way. Yet, in the end, that isn’t what’s best. Keep doing the work…even when it’s difficult. It could be life-changing for one of your patients.”
Lauren Musick, PA-C, Physician Assistant,
Express Care, Columbia Valley Community Health
...and It’s the Antidote to Physician Burnout
“Burnout is different for every individual, but for me I think it was just the little challenges that added up day-to-day in trying to care for my patients. Within the pod of primary care physicians, medical assistants, and LPNs in our clinic, we all had different ways of doing things which added up to re-work and frustration.
So we started a 20-minute ‘huddle’ twice a month to just create an open forum where everyone could share their views on what’s working well and what isn’t…a safe space for both physicians and staff to brainstorm about how we could end inefficiencies for each other so we all get more enjoyment out of what we do every day.
We carved out time by allotting one 20-minute patient slot for this quick stand-up meeting.
The result was lots of good ideas that were easy to implement right away. For instance, physicians asked that medical assistants ensure patients are prepped in advance so they don’t have to wait for a diabetic patient to take off socks and shoes or leave and come back so a female patient can disrobe and be gowned for her well-woman exam.
And it’s made all the difference in establishing an engaged day-to-day team dynamic and problem-solving culture in the clinic. Everyone’s willing to speak up now. In fact, since we solved most of our problems so quickly, we’ve moved our meetings to monthly from bi-weekly, and these days they really focus on celebrating the wins together.”
Rocky Mollère, MD, Internal Medicine and Pediatrics,
Ochsner Health System
New Orleans, LA