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When I Have More Time

Recently, we have instituted an hourglass system to track patient care time. Interestingly enough, it has captured several of our patients by surprise. It should be of no shock to anyone to recognize that I have very poor time management skills. And unfortunately all of us run on schedules throughout the day -- and they are jammed packed will all kinds of adventures.

The idea of the hourglass came to me when I was questioning why our clinical staff worked so late in the afternoon, or into the early evening hours. Ultimately, it appeared that I was spending much too much time with each individual patient as I made it through the day. In addition to each scheduled patient seen, we receive roughly 30 emails to reply to in an 8-hour period of time. Some emails are rather lengthy, detailed and hard to interpret. Many necessitate a call to the patient because we need to capture more information than what has been relayed to us. As well as emails, we receive phone calls for refills and health advice. Also, since we have an open door walk in as you need it policy; patients requiring immediate attention also change the flow of the office on a daily basis.

In addition to the direct patient workload, we have imaging tests that require my review, lab work for me to review and interpret, and a number of housekeeping items that require daily attention, such as letter writing for medical clearance for surgeries and communication to other physicians in our community caring for our patients. I have also written countless letters for disability and work release. This all adds up in a day’s work. And at the end of the day, all of us must get some rest, so that we may be amazing in our duties as health care providers.

Since we are building a complex to house the Stone Institute, and the Art I generate, the intensity around the office has increased two fold. We are also busy trying to find solutions to complex medical problems that no one seems to understand, or care about, but us. 

Time is our most precious commodity in life. It is more valuable than water, food, love, wealth, cars, homes and everything else we might put a value on. I realize the reason I cannot seem to stay on track is because I enjoy the honor of caring for everyone who seeks my advice; I enjoy the stories of everyone’s lives and the connections to everyone else. Life is a mystery, and I like to experience the joys and heartaches that come with being a compassionate person as we walk through each of your health mysteries together. But, I have also realized that if I don’t keep on track, if I don’t honor the schedule that I have created, then I will fall short of attending to everyone and everything that requires my attention.

So when I enter the room, and the hour glass flips to begin the session, as the grains of sand pour through the little opening, we should both be mindful of all that is happening around us. As the each grain of sand falls, you have my undivided attention and focus. You are the center of attention in a world that seldom, if ever, gives that gift to you. When the hourglass falls empty, I will try to make sure each patient has the most complete answers to their questions, and a clear direction for the next stage in their healing. As the gift of attention passes on, I will go on to the next one, and the next one, and the next one. If I am delayed, I am sorry. Please know it’s not that I was playing golf with a drug rep, or having lunch with an old high school friend who happened to just drop in. No, it’s probably because I lost track of the grains of sand and had to finish something that I had started, before I could go on to the next adventure.

Thank you for all that you bring to my life as a physician. I will write the story one day, when I have more time.

Doc
Posted by Katie Reed at 10:07 AM
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