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Tuesday Nov 14, 2017

We're Thankful for …

With the holidays rapidly approaching, we asked some of our new physician bloggers what they are thankful for in their practices. Here is what they shared.

[Hello I Am Grateful name tag]

It Takes a (Few) Village(s)

As a new physician in a rural area, I am thankful for my support system. It's been said that it takes a village to raise a child. Well, it takes a few villages to be a rural physician and a parent. Every day I rely on my husband to get our son to school (an hour from my office). And sometimes I rely on other parents, or grandparents, to help with the lunches I forget to pack, transportation to field trips and photos of the numerous fun events that I miss.

In the office, I am fortunate that I can pull one of my former residency classmates into an exam room to help work through a diagnosis. I can walk up to the pharmacy window and get a pharmacist's input on medication interactions and cost. Within the organization, I have a psychiatrist and a pain management specialist I can call to discuss cases. At the nearest hospital, I have a couple of cardiologists I reach out to often. In our increasingly quality-driven payment system, there is an entire team working to make sure I am doing everything each payer requires. There are not only people telling me what needs to be done, but my nurse and patient navigator make sure I do it.

Every time a patient says, "Thank you," I feel like I should give them a list of others to thank because these people make it possible for me to do my job.

Kimberly Becher, M.D., Clay County, W.Va.

Mentors Make a Difference

I am thankful to be surrounded by practice partners who have guided me in my journey as a new physician. We come together under an organized health care agreement (OHCA), so we share overhead, front-office staff expenses, etc. My husband and I own our own practice, but there are three other practices in our OHCA. The physicians from those other practices took the two of us -- who were totally green to the world of owning and running a business -- and told us we could do it while shepherding us every step of the way.

They have helped by stepping in when they saw us making the same mistakes they had made in the past and by stepping back when they saw we needed to forge our own path. We have been able to build a stable practice and run it the way we see fit because of the security we found in those around us who had done it before. They understand that with three young children, my practice and schedule may not always be typical, and they support the choices I have made to balance being a mother and a physician.

Above all, I am thankful for my husband, Mike Oller, M.D., who keeps the wheels on the business bus turning and lets me thrive in both my personal and professional life by encouraging balance. Jen Brull, M.D.; Lynn Fisher, M.D.; and Daniel Sanchez, M.D. -- thank you for being the best partners and mentors I could have asked for. I am so thankful for you all!

Beth Oller, M.D., Stockton, Kan.

Everyone Pitches In

Recently, one of my work partners was out unexpectedly for health reasons. We didn't know the details or how long she needed to be away from work. What we knew was we needed to cover her clinic time, her shifts supervising residents and more -- all during a busy season when we each felt stretched thin already. Yet faculty members volunteered immediately and without complaint, and the holes in the schedule filled quickly.

I am so grateful for partnership with my colleagues. We share the same goals: strong resident education, excellent patient care and clinician wellness. To meet those goals, we must work together to share the load. That load might be a scheduling issue, a simple task such as completing paperwork, or a complex one such as creating a curriculum for residents. In each case, working together makes the work easier, faster and more enjoyable.

Beyond lightening the load, the teamwork in my practice allows us to build trust and mutual support among our faculty. It makes my practice feel like a family. We care about, and take care of, each other. I could not be more grateful for my work partners.

Melissa Hemphill, M.D., Portland, Ore.

Colleagues Help My Patients -- and Me

My schedule for the day was full. My patient couldn't get in to see me, so he saw my colleague instead. The patient was having leg pain. My colleague ordered urgent outpatient imaging and discovered a blood clot. That evening, he prescribed the patient the appropriate medication and arranged a thrombectomy for the large clot. I reached out to my patient, who was so grateful for the care he received from us -- even if it wasn't necessarily from me.

When I chose family medicine as a career, I knew I would develop deep relationships with patients; I didn't expect the even deeper relationships I have with my colleagues, both clinical and nonclinical. On numerous occasions, they have helped my patients without hesitation. When I was out of town, another colleague adjusted my patient's diabetes medication based on new labs that came in. During an overnight call, yet another colleague virtually cared for a patient of mine who was having an allergic reaction.

We chat about complex cases. We offer connections to good subspecialists. We hop into each other's exam rooms to offer second opinions about rashes and electrocardiographs.

My nonclinical colleagues follow up with patients' referrals, complete biometrics forms, track when patients are due for visits, work on prior authorizations, hunt down resources for patients and do so much more.

I'm incredibly thankful for the entire team I work with. They catch mistakes I make and give me regular feedback, challenging me to be a better physician. I feel more confident -- and more satisfied -- in my work because of the people around me.

Natasha Bhuyan, M.D., Phoenix

Caring for People Is a Privilege

I'm always thankful for the opportunity to diagnose and treat a seemingly simple medical issue. And yet I'm always amazed at how many more layers of a person's life are affected by those issues.

For example, I listened to some profound stories last week. One patient brought up her struggle with weight loss and then cried for the first time since her mother passed away. Another came to me for followup after an emergency department visit and ended up divulging the abusive relationship she was ready to leave. A third patient sought evaluation for headaches, which seemed to be related to the stress she experienced due to being estranged from her family.

Granted, not all my conversations go like this. Most of my visits involve simple diagnoses, medication management and, at times, referrals. But hearing these stories is my favorite part of the workday. Helping patients piece together their medical diagnoses in the context of their lives is rewarding. It is a privilege to see into the lives of so many unique individuals and offer them a path that allows them to make needed changes.

Lalita Abhyankar, M.D., M.H.S., New York

Posted at 03:15PM Nov 14, 2017 by Kimberly Becher, M.D.

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The opinions and views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the opinions and views of the American Academy of Family Physicians. This blog is not intended to provide medical, financial, or legal advice. All comments are moderated and will be removed if they violate our Terms of Use.