In the past, house calls were much more common than they are today. Back then, making a house call was part of what it meant to be a physician. Today, it is more of a specialty, with the majority of physicians staying in their respective healthcare institutions. However, this also means that you can learn to specialize in house calls and offer care to patients in the comfort of their own home.
In fact, “comfort” is perhaps the wrong word to use here. For many patients, being able to avoid constant hospitalization offers a great deal more than comfort – it can be something of a necessity. Hospitals are large, often forbidding, and very depersonalized spaces and, of course, nobody actually likes being in a hospital. For elderly or mentally infirm people though, it can be downright distressing and this type of mental stress can soon translate to physical health.
Furthermore, hospitalization can involve physical stress as well. Depending on the condition a patient is suffering from, leaving their home and making the trip to a hospital can be tough – and even perilous. This is especially true if the patient lives in a rural area, far from any hospital.
As final point here, you can be sure that those patients who are terminally ill would much rather pass in their home, surrounded by their loved ones in a familiar place. Not in the sterile wards of a hospital, surrounded by tubes and beeping machines.
This is all pretty heavy stuff, but it underscores the vital role that house call doctors play in patient care. The first step to deciding whether house calls are for you, therefore, is deciding whether this is your calling.
What Does a House Call Physician Do?
Most fundamentally, a house call doctor is one who visits patients in their own home, of course. Nevertheless, any job description which set out the roles and responsibilities of a house doctor will usually give a bit more information on that as there are several responsibilities the role typically involves.
Health Jobs Nationwide (healthjobsnationwide.com), an online healthcare jobs recruitment service, say that that you will find several similarities among the many different healthcare job roles are set out in postings. They normally involve the following:
Palliative care involves caring for terminally ill patients, offering them the comfort of seeing out their final days in the home. There is a large social work dimension to this role, although it is different from medical social work. Palliative care also involves helping patients manage pain and providing the medical assistance they need to live at home in as much comfort as possible.
Ongoing treatment involves caring for patients over a lengthy course of medical treatment. The role of the house call doctor is to ensure that this treatment does not have to entail a lengthy stay in hospital. This is of enormous benefit to hospitals too because it frees up hospital spaces.
Responding to Emergencies
If a patient cannot get to hospital in the event of medical emergency, the house call doctor can come to them. This means that your daily roles can be pretty unpredictable as you might suddenly discover that you need to make a house call that you didn’t know about, say, yesterday.
Being a house call doctor is therefore a fundamental healthcare role and it is of enormous benefit to patients. It can also be very rewarding, not least because you might find that you eventually build a real relationship with your patients, something which is more likely to happen outside the sterility of the hospital environment.