AUA NEWS
AUA Alumnus Makes the Fight Against the Physician Shortage Personal
  • May 07, 2017

Dr. Paul Aguillon (Class of 2010) is an attending Family Medicine physician in an area where doctors are most needed – rural Delaware.

While studying at AUA, Dr. Aguillon decided to become a primary care physician. He was inspired by his professors’ dedication to their students and emphasis on compassion and bedside manner. As a teaching assistant, he was especially amazed by how invested his professors were in each student’s academic and professional progress.

“They were focused on bringing out the best in every student. If they noticed a dip in your performance or knew you could do better, they’d push you that much harder and help you bring your grades up,” said Dr. Aguillon. “Not many schools have professors that would invest so much in their students.”

During clinical rotations, Dr. Aguillon helped patients who were suffering from a multitude of diseases. Though still a clinical student, there were moments that made him feel like he was already a seasoned physician. One day, while taking the history of a hospice patient who didn’t have much time left, he instinctively put down his pen and just listened. The patient felt like he was part of a conversation, not just answering questions, and expressed how he felt truly cared for by Dr. Aguillon.

“Sometimes it’s better to stop writing and just listen to your patient with undivided attention,” said Dr. Aguillon.

While debating between surgery and family medicine residencies, he ultimately chose the latter because it would give him a greater opportunity to interact with patients. He also felt it was where he could make a bigger difference. This became especially clear early in his residency when he had to treat a patient suffering from diabetes and heart failure. She had already been in the hospital for 90 days when he first met her.  Instead of focusing on diligent history-taking, he expressed his concern on a personal level then convinced her to undergo gastric bypass surgery and make healthier lifestyle choices. By the end of his residency, she no longer required hospitalization.

“I treated her like I treat all patients – as a member of my family,” said Dr. Aguillon.

The physician shortage has hit low-income and rural areas the hardest. After his residency, Dr. Aguillon joined his father’s practice in rural Delaware and saw the adverse effects of the shortage first-hand. For every 30,000 people, there is only one doctor. Dr. Aguillon’s clinic is stocked with resources not common to a typical family medicine private practice that allow him to treat emergency, surgical, and orthopedic cases. The shortage has forced his practice to encompass many disciplines outside his purview.

“There are two dermatologist offices in the area but they don’t accept new patients,” said Dr. Aguillon. “It takes about six months to run a biopsy. If we put up an ad for more patients, our doors would be knocked down.”

Despite the overflow, he loves his job. He works six days a week, his hours are consistent, and he still has some time to enjoy his hobbies like fishing, hiking, and golfing. He likes interacting with patients on a daily basis and listening to their stories. Plus, as a physician in private practice, he has a lot of responsibility.

“In private practice, you have to slow down and really double check everything,” said Dr. Aguillon. “When the buck stops with you, you won’t be so quick to over-prescribe antibiotics.”

After a year of working at the clinic, he’s convinced that more medical graduates need to join primary care fields. In family medicine, he gets to apply a little bit of everything he learned throughout medical school. This is particularly essential considering patients have been unable to see a doctor for months because of the lack of physicians in their area.

“When you’re a primary care doctor, you’re serving the highest need in the United States,” said Dr. Aguillon. “You just have to occasionally put the pen down and listen to all the patients who rely on your expertise.”