A Day in the Life of A Primary Care Doctor

Doctors do not live glamorous lives.  We often sacrifice personal time for the needs of our patients.  Although it is a rewarding job, it can often be a thankless one.  The motivation to keep going is fueled by our passion for medicine and patients.

I wake up at 5:30 am every day I work and review my emails and schedule for the day.  I eat a light breakfast, pick up the kitchen, and make lunches and breakfast for my daughter and myself.  Then I start a load of laundry in the washer and I take a shower and get dressed.  I wake up my daughter by 6:30 am so she can get ready for school.  I finish doing my hair and makeup and go downstairs to pack my work bag and then load the car and take out the trash.  I pack my daughter’s school bag as well and then fix her hair before she puts on her shoes and heads to the car.  If I have enough time, I make cup of coffee for the road. After I drop my daughter off at school or camp by 8:00 am, I commute to work and get settled in my office. I check my clinic schedule and do a group practice huddle and brief huddle with my medical assistant before we start our day.  From 8:30 am to 12 noon, I am running in out of my office and patient rooms to examine, counsel, and review labs and radiologic findings.  I have patient appointments scheduled every 30 minutes and the appointments overlap a little. 

I often have a meeting with my office manager or my brand and marketing manager regarding business issues and projects such as a business campaign, a marketing campaign for a new product or service I will be featuring, writing a job description for a new employee I want to hire, going through a budget, or planning the agenda for our weekly staff meetings on Fridays.  I also will call patients in between appointments to discuss lab or imaging results or notify my office assistant about a conference or meeting that my schedule needs to be blocked for. 

Over my lunch hour, I read and answer emails while I quickly start to eat my lunch.  I also return phone calls and messages and do tasks in my electronic health record for my medical assistant to handle.  I also complete office visit notes either by typing or dictation.  Sometimes I do training or webinars to keep current on medical issues and topics such as HIPPA and OHSA compliance or how to improve practice workflows.  I also do webinars on continuing medical education (CME) as well. 

By the time 1 pm rolls around, I am ready for a quick coffee or soda before I start my afternoon clinic.  In between seeing patients and finishing my chart documentation, I may handle personal errands like making sure a bill was paid online on time, signing my daughter up for dance lessons, or sending a text to remind my babysitter or housekeeper an important task I need help with I also may order stuff for the office on Amazon or purchase my groceries that I need for the household.  I am constantly being pulled in different directions and handling different tasks, most related to patient care but others are personal errands.  It is hard to balance everything and often sometimes are neglected.  I think I am an organized person but even the most organized, fail to get everything they want accomplished in one day.  Time limits us all and I try to delegate what I can and be efficient with what I can not.  My schedule or calender maps out my daily life events including meetings and personal errands I need to do. 

I finish seeing patients around 4:30-5:00 pm and finish the prioritized clinical tasks such as electronically prescribing a medication for a patient, finishing any patient charting, and answering any important work emails by the end of the day.

Around 5:30-6:00 pm, I am arriving home to my daughter greeting me and telling me about the highlights of her day and my babysitter informing me of what was accomplished for the day as well.  Then I have dinner with my daughter after the babysitter is relieved for the day and my daughter gets ready for bed while I clean up the kitchen and put away the leftovers. If I have the energy, I will make lunches and set up breakfast for tomorrow.  Then I read a bedtime story with my daughter and she says her prayers; we say goodnight and for a few hours before I go to bed, I may read or finish work remotely from home before I go to bed by 9:30 -10:00 pm.  If I am on call that evening, I keep the after hours phone and answer any urgent calls to patients immediately to address their concerns.  I know each of my patients intimately and I never feel bothered or inconvenienced when they call.  I feel like a trusted friend whom they confide and depend on for medical advice.

I am usually physically and sometimes mentally exhausted but what keeps me motivated is that I have the autonomy in running my own practice and I am proud that I am delivering health care the way I want and that my patients respect and value what we do for them.  It is a rewarding job and every smile or hug I get during the day.  The cards and flowers from appreciative patients is worth the work behind the scenes to keep my practice running smoothly.  I genuinely am passionate about medicine and what I do which motivates me to get up the next day and do it all again.

Author
Bertina M Hooks

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