Health Tips: Shortage of Physicians

There’s a crisis in primary health care. Paul Griner, MD, author of The Power of Patient Stories: Learning Moments in Medicine, says it’s important to find a doctor who will take the time to listen to you. But first you need to decide what kind of primary care physician will best meet your needs. Once you’ve made that decision, look for:

• Someone interested in knowing the whole patient—not just the illness.

• A patient-centered atmosphere in the office.

• A good listener. Most diagnoses can be made (or suspected) by letting the patient tell his or her story.

• Willingness to say, “I don’t know,” but then get the answer by referring you to another doctor or using medical knowledge bases.

• Willingness to communicate with patients via email or Skype.

• Someone who values team care and the role of advanced practice nurses or physician assistants.