Nursing students eye docs’ time

August 12, 2010

GREENFIELD – Since surveys show that people may only get 15 minutes of their doctor’s time during a typical visit, a group of Greenfield Community College students has compiled a list of tips for people to get the most out of their health care appointments.

Photo: Tip for health care visits: Be prepared to make the most of the brief time you have with your doctor

GCC student nurses Sarah Connelly and Sherry Hager have been working on a project to inform people how to get the best information out of their doctor visits.

Seven GCC nursing students recently visited several local health care providers, such as general practitioners, dentists, orthodontists, pharmacists and pediatricians, to gather tips about how people can maximize the value of their visits. It was done as part of the students’ service learning project.

“Doctors are very busy and only have a maximum amount of time that they can spend with each individual patient,” said Sherry Hager, one of the nursing students.

Hager, 54, of Colrain, said, by being prepared for those appointments, the patients and doctors can create a relationship where patients can advocate for themselves and the doctors quickly learn what the patients needs are.

Hager said she went to nursing school in 1974, but wasn’t able to finish. She said it has always been a desire of hers to become a nurse, so when the opportunity presented itself, she decided to go back to school. She just finished her first year and hopes to graduate next June.

Dr. Meghan Gump of Valley Medical Group in Greenfield was one of the doctors that the group consulted.

Gump said she feels that many physicians would love to be able to spend 30 to 45 minutes with every patient, but that the current health care systems in the country and state don’t allow for that.

She said health insurance companies reimburse for each visit a doctor does.

“If we don’t see patients, we don’t get reimbursed,” she said.

She said health insurance companies have forced the hands of some physicians to see more patients so that their practices can keep offering its services, like laboratories, and keeping nurses on staff.

She said, therefore, patients usually get 15-minute visits, so by being prepared, they will be able to optimize their visits and get the best health care possible.

The nursing students will be hosting an event at Greenfield’s Farmers Market on Saturday, where they will offer advice on how to optimize a health visit, as well as pass out information with their tips. The nursing students will be at the market from 8 a.m. to noon.

The other students involved with the project are Sarah Connelley, Jessica Harvey, Jen Cash, Peter Truesdell, Kristin Seaman and Angel Russek.

MacKenzie Issler, Gazette Contributing Writer