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Why Your Doctors and Nurses Are Always Busy

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If you are healthy, you only visit the doctor’s office a few times a year for physicals and treatments of minor problems. You see many employees, including doctors, nurses and receptionists. You may wonder what each of them does and how much work goes on in a doctor’s office outside of the examination room. The extent of the answer may surprise you.


Doctors’ offices have to handle incredible amounts of paperwork. Every time you go to the doctor, you fill out new forms relating to the current status of your health as well as any contact information changes. Nurses record your vital signs, which include your temperature and heart rate, as well as your weight and height. Doctors also record data such as your reflexes, your habits and your lung capacity. They keep track of each vaccine that you receive and every test that you must take. All of this information be stored on paper, but many doctors’ offices now use document management software. This approach allows them to access all of your information at once and prevents its destruction due to a natural disaster or theft.

Another aspect of paperwork that doctors’ offices must deal with is sending records to schools and some businesses. Most schools require proof that students have been vaccinated, and residential colleges require additional vaccines such as the one against meningitis. Usually, schools provide special paperwork that must be filled out in addition to the office’s own reporting system.


Doctors’ offices provide vaccinations to children as they get older and reach the age at which they can receive each shot. However, they also sponsor seasonal vaccines such as the one against the flu virus. Not only do receptionists have to coordinate when nurses will be free to give shots to walk-in clients, they also have to manage the paperwork that is specific to vaccines. This includes waivers and information about allergens and potential side effects. Finally, the office must figure out where vaccines will be given, what to do if an unprecedented amount of people arrive and how to handle registration. This planning can take hours of meetings even before the flu season begins.


While some testing requires specialized equipment that primary health care providers do not have, many provide at least some level of testing.Stress tests, blood drawings and eye exams include the tests that your doctor’s office may administer. Nurses can administer many parts of these exams, but some necessitate a doctor’s opinion. In addition to preparing the equipment necessary, the office must schedule the tests, reserve the space and potentially prepare to send the data to an outside source for analysis. They also must have a list of specialists ready in case you have to be referred to someone with expertise in your problem.


If your doctor’s office is small, it probably does not handle emergencies. However, large hospitals may offer both regular, preventative health care as well as emergency room services. If your hospital resembles the second situation, you may have to wait to see a doctor if he or she has been called away for an emergency. Cases includeheart attacks, complications with pregnancies, accidents and issues with pre-existing conditions. Some may be easy to resolve, but others may require unplanned surgery, which could take many doctors and nurses. Doctors’ offices have to be ready to respond to emergencies at any time by having enough staff and supplies on hand to keep the facility operational.

The next time you go to the doctor’s office and have to wait for a long time, recognize how much work goes into each aspect of running that kind of facility. Trained professionals go to school for years to deal with the unexpected and stressful nature of a hospital. Try and have some patience when you have to sit in the waiting room while the doctor finishes speaking with someone else. He or she probably wishes that you did not have to wait, too.

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