New Doctor Goes Old School
At houses all over Edmond, a young doctor holding to old traditions has set out to change the way patients see their doctors. Nathan Valentine, M.D., has formed a practice where the only appointments are house calls – and he’s the only employee.
Embracing a concept known as “micropracticing,” he combines new ideas with old traditions. The result is more time spent with fewer patients. “It’s putting the emphasis on quality rather than quantity,” says Valentine.
Valentine started thinking about house calls when he began making plans for his own practice. Polling everybody he knew, he sought answers to the question, “What do you hate most about seeing the doctor?” The overwhelming response was the wait time. A close second was the small amount of time that most doctors spend with patients. The answer was obvious. By simply coming to people’s doors, ready to treat patients on the spot, Valentine eliminates both objections. “Everyone loves house calls,” he notes.
Valentine’s patients enjoy the face-to-face time he spends with them. His accessibility reassures his patients. All of his patients carry his cell phone number and the knowledge that when they need him, they can speak to him directly. No receptionist gets in the way of speedy answers to medical questions.
“My practice is intentionally very small,” he admits. “That allows me to focus on my patients. Doctors think that if they hand out their cell phone numbers, they’ll get calls 24 hours a day. It’s just not true. I find that when I respect patients’ time, they respect mine.”
Valentine doesn’t want anything standing between him and late-night emergencies. If patients need hospital visits, Valentine follows along, continuing to treat his patients there.
As a family physician, Valentine also stresses versatility, the ability to treat patients of all ages and the knowledge to diagnose and treat a wide variety of conditions. An Oklahoma native, Valentine obtained his medical degree from O.U. and completed his residency in Kansas. As part of his residency he practiced in Zimbabwe. The experience deeply affected Valentine and still influences his vision of medical treatment today. But Edmond was home for him and he returned here to open his private practice.
“Primary care doctors go into either internal medicine or family medicine,” Valentine explains. “Internal medicine focuses on adult patients, but family physicians treat infants through adults. It’s a very broad specialty.”
Valentine wasn’t always sure he wanted to be a doctor. But eventually he fell in love with the idea and now he’s doing it his way. “I wanted to do something that helped people,” he says. As an undergraduate he worked as a medical assistant. It sealed the deal for him and his work fulfills him professionally and personally. But it wasn’t until he reached medical school that he landed on family medicine as his goal. He fell in love with its variety and the relationships family doctors build with their patients.
Micropracticing also allows Valentine to emphasize what he sees as the most important qualities a good doctor needs. “Compassion is key,” he says. “Intelligence is a close second, but just being smart isn’t enough to motivate a doctor to do the right thing day in and day out for his patients.”
Valentine trained hard to make his practice a reality. After 10 years of learning and training, being a doctor pays off. “I love what I do,” he says. “I’m literally taking care of patients in their time of need and they appreciate that. It’s nice to be able to help people when they need it the most.”
Valentine also freely gives to the community. He often lectures on various medical topics at retirement communities and assisted living centers. Regardless of the topic, though, he gets more questions about his house calls than anything he speaks about. His interest in public education runs deep and he continually returns to the idea of turning to teaching later in his career. “Public lectures are a way I can serve my community now,” he notes.
In the meantime, Valentine enjoys his house calls and the attention he can give to his patients. “I get to make a living helping people,” he says. “It’s those moments with people that keep me coming back.”
For more information about Valentine’s practice, visit www.valentinefamilymed.com.