Small talk can build rapport and efficiently bring out information relevant to a patient's life goals and hopes. Any time there is “dead time,” for example while bringing a patient into the room or doing an exam, ask about what kind of work they do, or about school and if they have kids. This information can be referred back to throughout the visit.
“It sounds like you are incredibly busy with all that you have on your plate with work and school!"
“Working and taking care of a little one must make it challenging to schedule a visit.”