There are not many things that frustrate me in my clinical practice. Most patients are open, receptive and leave shaking their heads in agreement to your plan of care. What happens once they leave your office is often unknown. You hope that they venture directly to the pharmacy, take their medications as prescribed and their health improves.
What I am occasionally finding is that my hope of 100% patient compliance is just a dream that I have comprised in my own mind. As a new practitioner, I really focus on patient education: informing them of the expected course of illness, how to take the medications, possible side effects of those medications and, of course, things to be concerned about.
In our urgent care, we encourage patients to come back for rechecks for common procedures such as suture placements and incision and drainages - we want to make sure things are improving as expected. I am amazed at how many patients decide that they do not need to start their prescribed medications because they thought that "things will get better on their own." This in turn leads to worsening conditions, longer recoveries and frustrations on both the patients' and practitioners' parts. Is there an answer to this commonplace problem? Maybe I should be more firm when going over prescriptions, repeating the importance of taking medications as prescribed.
My hours in primary care, as limited as they are, have been quite successful. All of my patients who have come in have completed their blood work and have made improvements with lifestyle changes and follow ups. I enjoy showing patients how they can make simple changes that can last them a lifetime. I know our instructors said we may not be able to change the world but I hope to at least impact one person at a time. My success streak in primary care may be short-lived but I will enjoy it while it lasts.