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Praise for The Prompt Physician and Practitioner

Who has spent more than one hour after their scheduled time waiting to see their physician? Not typical if you live anywhere north of the southernmost border to Mexico. If you have, then you are waiting considerably above the national mean. According to an article written in 2015 and published on Becker's Hospital Review (1), wait times in a lobby to see a doctor is short and varies by specialty. For example, the wait for a psychologist is 11.5 minutes (mine is about 5 minutes), for a psychiatrist is 16.75 minutes, and the longest waits are for emergency physicians (24.75 min) and general practitioners (22 min). Of the cities cited, El Paso had the longest wait times (26.4 min). If this is the mean, then why do we wait for over an hour? And why do we think that we need to wait so long to be seen?

My personal experience in areas outside of the RGV is more aligned with the national mean; my experience locally is considerably off the national mean. This post is to recognize those prompt physicians who make their schedules to approximate the best possible way toward the national mean.

I am a busy person, and when I need to visit a doctor, I search for the most prompt physician I can find. As a psychologist, I hear stories from my patients who wait for two or three hours to see their general practitioner, specialist, or psychiatrist, needing to wait because they need a refill on their medications for chronic diseases or mental illness. The patient has little choice in the matter, and typically believes there is no option. Psychologists do not prescribe medications (we prescribe behavioral directives though), so there is no reason a patient needs to stay if the patient believes his/her time is regarded as less important. One of my patients, for example, pointed at his watch when I was ten minutes later than our scheduled time (as I said, I am under five minutes).

So here is high praise and appreciation to the specialist, physician assistant, nurse practitioner, psychologist, counselor and family practitioner who makes it a point to meet their patient during the patient's scheduled time, regardless of insurance or emergency. To the office manager who will phone and tell the patient if the doctor will be late or unavailable that day, to save the patient's time in driving to the appointment and wasting money on the gas to make their appointment. Your commitment does not go unrecognized.


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