Bringing the easy warmth of a small-town doctor to patients catching up on primary care
After 35 years at his own private practice, Dr. McLaughlin is continuing care at PacMed Federal Way.
When Robert McLaughlin, MD moved to Federal Way in 1986, he brought a little bit of rural Illinois with him.
“I grew up in a small Midwestern town with one family doctor,” he explains, “And when I established a private practice in Federal Way I had a similar philosophy: care for everyone in the community, for whatever concerns they may have.”
After 35 years operating a walk-in clinic for local families, Dr. McLaughlin has moved his practice to Pacific Medical Centers Federal Way. His patients say they still feel like they’re getting that small-town service.
“Even if it’s a big fancy building, they still get to see good old Dr. McLaughlin,” he says. “PacMed has been great. I still feel like I’m working for myself, not a big conglomeration, and patients continue to be our top priority.”
35 years in Federal Way
Dr. McLaughlin still sees patients he’s known for three decades, as well as their children, grandchildren — and new patients too.
“I have one patient who tells me the same thing every time she sees me. She says, ‘thank you for saving my life.’” 20 years ago Dr. McLaughlin told her she was going to die unless she quit smoking, and she says she quit smoking that very day.
“Sometimes my words do carry weight,” he says. “It’s never as simple as telling a patient to quit smoking. You have to figure out what motivates each individual patient.”
The art of medicine… and classic cars
Motivating unique patients and tinkering with cantankerous classic cars are two interests that Dr. McLaughlin has held since his youth. The two passions are more similar than you might think.
“You have to bring an artistic quality to restoring classic cars, and there is an art to medicine, too,” he says. “You can tell the difference between a car that’s been thrown together and one that’s been assembled with care and attention.”
Dr. McLaughlin is clearly interested in the mechanics of fixing things—whether that’s refurbishing a paint job and gently coaxing an engine back to life, or treating a patient’s rash and mending broken bones. He puts time and care into each visit with his patients, talking with them to learn their concerns and then thoughtfully diagnosing both the issue and treatments.
It’s time to catch up on care
With the pandemic, many people put their health care on the back burner. But Dr. McLaughlin encourages everyone to visit their primary care provider. A wellness exam can uncover new issues and keep tabs on chronic conditions.
“Don’t put off those minor complaints. If it’s been there for a while and you’re wondering if it’s worth going to the doctor, the answer is yes.”
3 things to prioritize:
- Routine cancer screenings including colonoscopies and mammograms.
- Elective surgeries for joint replacements or minor cosmetic surgery.
- New or changing skin conditions which may indicate melanoma.