Patient Relationships are at the Heart of Family Medicine
The patient-physician relationship is at the heart of family medicine. While there are similarities between family medicine and the other primary care specialties, it is the extent to which family physicians value, develop, nurture and maintain a relationship with each patient that distinguishes family medicine from all other specialties.
Beyond their patients’ reported concerns, family physicians take the time to consider additional health factors in their patients’ lives, including family and community situations and relationships. “In family medicine, we take a broader approach to primary care, taking into consideration health-impacting social determinants and community factors,” says Dr. Michael Hulin, family medicine physician at East Jefferson General Hospital. “We also serve as an advocate for our patients in an increasingly complex healthcare system.”
By building relationships with their patients over time, family physicians are able to develop a comprehensive understanding of their patients’ health and offer insightful, personal guidance and treatment. As part of their primary care practice, family doctors offer diverse services to their patients.
82 percent routinely perform procedures
48 percent treat patients in a hospital setting
31 percent deliver emergency care
74 percent care for infants and children
83 percent have hospital privileges
18 percent provide OB care
All family physicians are trained in labor and delivery, emergency medicine, surgery and procedures, pediatrics, hospital medicine (including intensive care, inpatient and outpatient) and geriatrics. They are also trained to perform multiple types of procedures. “It’s really the only specialty that forces you to retain as much of what you learned in medical school as possible,” Dr. Hulin says.
Getting Patients Invested in Their Own Health
Dr. Hulin takes the time to meet with each of his patients annually to assess their diet and fitness goals. With his interests in nutrition, exercise and even sports medicine, he is able to provide his patients with information and special handouts on exercise and food guidelines. He’s also an advocate for self-care since mental health is as much a part of wellness as physical wellbeing. “I’m much more enthusiastic talking about wellness than yet another prescription medication,” he says. “Because our healthcare system is getting better at treating illness, we are living longer. I want my patients to enjoy their longevity, and, by helping them learn to take better care of themselves, we are helping to improve their quality of life.”
The Exercise is Medicine Program
East Jefferson General Hospital takes part in the Exercise is Medicine initiative that was originally launched by the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Medical Association. The purpose of the program is to partner with physicians to lead patients to understand and act on using regular exercise as a method of treatment for attaining and maintaining health.
At the Exercise is Medicine program at East Jefferson, patients are given diet and exercise tailored to their lifestyles and chronic conditions. Over the course of 12 weeks, exercise is used to help treat and prevent dozens of diseases, such as diabetes, hypertension, back pain, heart disease and obesity. As a participant in Exercise is Medicine, patients meet with a Health Fitness Expert for an initial fitness assessment, goal development and exercise prescription. Dr. Hulin says his patients using the service are making strides in their health and reducing their need for medicine. “At six weeks and 12 weeks, I get a progress report on each of my patients that participate in the program,” he says. “What is great about the program is that it includes consults with a Health Fitness Expert and nutritionist every other week.”
The Exercise is Medicine program also includes:
One 90-minute initial assessment with an exercise physiologist
Two 60-minute reassessments at weeks six and 12
One 90-minute nutrition consultation
One 30-minute follow-up nutrition consultation at week nine
Weekly check-ins via phone or email with a Registered Dietitian
Dr. Hulin is a big advocate for the Exercise is Medicine program at East Jefferson’s Wellness Center because he wants his patients to be more active. “As a society, we are less active than even a generation ago,” he says. “Most people lead more sedentary lifestyles; now we go outside less, eat more and eat more processed foods. It takes more diligence than ever to keep our bodies healthy.”
When asked what other advice he has for his patients so that they can lead healthier lives, he says, “I tell them that it is important to incorporate more vegetables in their diet and to exercise whenever possible. When you are eating plants, you are simply eating better. And when incorporating exercise into their busy lives, it is best to find something they like to do. The more they enjoy an activity such as walking, dancing or playing golf, the more they will exercise.”
Medical School: Louisiana State University
Residency: East Jefferson General Hospital, Family Medicine
East Jefferson Primary Care
9605 Jefferson Hwy., Ste. F
River Ridge, LA 70123