Got Time?


We all have 24 hours in a day.


Our profession does not affect it. Our location  does not have an effect either. But why is it that we hear people say, I have no time? Others say ‘I’ve got lots of it.”


Minutes and hours can be at its longest  when  we are on a 24 hour duty or when presenting in a grandrounds.  The longest minute in my life was when my son broke loose from my hold while standing in line.  Too short when we are having a great time!

Doctors  have  24 hours too.

Depending on our specialty, our day becomes night and night becomes day. But still 24 hours is all we’ve got.


My concept of time has changed over the years.

It has  affected the way I chose to work or do things. Will I see patients all day? Will I do something else other than “doctoring?” What kind of patients do I want to see? What events, activities will I say yes to? Who will be in my circle of relationships?


Just like money, time is a form of currency for me. How much of it is spent and how much it yields is very important .  Every minute counts. The value we put to our time helps us prioritize what we commit to. It can be for monetary reasons. It can be for investment and growth.  It can be for relationships. Or life’s passion.


Monetary value.  If I see 30 patients a day and you see 15, does it mean I make more than you do? Not necessarily. Between a surgeon who spends thirty minutes with a patient for a procedure  and an internist who spends the same time with a patient with a chronic illness, the monetary value of the time spent may differ. If I choose a private practice against a retainer practice for a fixed rate, which would yield more value for time? If I spend sometime doing something else (business or use  my other talents…hmm..sing for a fee perhaps? )  and practice  to a certain extent, would it yield more value?


Investment and growth.  Money isn’t the only way we gauge  time’s worth. Time used as an investment may yield more than we can imagine. If you are a pediatrician, would you give up Saturdays of your  practice for  2 ½ years of studying?  Income lost on  Saturdays for a pediatrician can be quite something.  But time  spent for that  can open doors to many opportunities. Attending continuing medical education like post grad courses is time spent for investment and growth. Every minute spent to learn is an investment on good patient care.  Good patient care leads to  happy patients. Happy patients refer other patients.  You do the math. Next time you are tempted to leave the post grad you are in because you have to go back to the clinic, think investment  for your patients.


Relationships. When my son was young, Friday  is  by choice  time with him. Time is needed to build and grow relationships, be it personal or professional. Time with people who truly matters is always time well spent. Our patients  want time with us.  Patients express their sentiments  with comments like ”Si doctor parang palaging nagmamadali.” On one end, it can be “ Doc always takes the time.”


Life’s passion.  Did you ever had a moment when you felt like you should have, but you didn’t? Real life is not like the movie “Click” where you can  rewind the remote  to do things the way you should have. Hey, that’s only in the movies! Pursue your passion like there is no tomorrow.


Here are great tips to making the most of your time:

  1. Define what is important to you. Give it your time. Learn to say no to others.
  2. Use time as a form of investment. Think big picture. Time spent now can yield  much in the future.
  3. Invest time on relationships. Such time never go to waste.
  4. Spend time to pursue you passion and wake up each morning with a smile on your face.


So how do you make the  most of your time? Can you write them in the comments below.


Every second in our life  should be time well spent.

7 Steps to a Successful Patient Appointment System

calendar for appointment

Doctors are always in a rush.

Patients are in the clinic. Patients are in the hospital  waiting for our daily rounds. We hop from one clinic to another, one hospital to another. We have conferences to attend. We have procedures to do.


Patients are in a rush too.

They want to be seen as soon as they arrive. Their concerns are always urgent . They have to get back to work or attend to something else.


Marrying the doctor’s time and the patient’s time can be very difficult.  I have chosen to address this by seeing patients by appointment since I started practicing. Its not easy but it slowly  worked for me and my patients. I started by convincing myself and my patients that it will work both ways for us.


Sticking to appointed time is not  100% guaranteed. When a patient in the hospital becomes toxic or when a procedure becomes prolonged, adjustments will have to be made.


Patients run late  because of traffic and unexpected circumstances. Both my patients and I try our very best. You also need a very efficient secretary for this to work!

Here’s a few tips:


  1. Convince yourself  that this will help you know when you will be done and what else you can do with your time.
  2. Convince your patient that they will be seen as soon as they arrive and that they can make good use of their time the rest of the day.
  3. Make reminder calls  a day or two before to ensure patients are coming on their appointed time.
  4. Remind the patients to come  ten minutes before their time to give leeway to document their visit.
  5. Tell patients that the schedule is very tight.  They need to come on their appointed time or else they will be moved to the last slot available for the day or the next clinic day. Do this always until they get it.
  6. Determine your appropriate visit length for the type of patients  you see. You can vary the visit length based on this.  Train your secretary to determine this for herself when patients make the appointment. You can opt to make specially designated days for certain patient visits as you see appropriate.  I assign a day  for my pediatric prenatal visits because this usually takes very long.
  7. If you wish to accommodate walk in patients, designate chunks of time during your clinic hours for it.  Inform your walk in patients that their next visit will be by appointment just like the rest.


If you have been doing this too, let me know how it works for you by writing on the comments below. I want to learn more on how this can work for me and my patients.


Make good use of your time. Help your patients make good use of their time too.