I am a family doctor, who recently joined a family practice group after working for 13+ years in a community health center setting. Loved serving patients in great need- was driven out of the health center by bosses playing power politics.
When I arrived at my health center five years ago things were a mess- clinical numbers were abysmal, revenues barely covered expenses, staff morale was terrible and patients hated visiting our facility. As site medical director, I worked collaboratively with the site director and all staff to get the center on track. Staff turnover was very high early on.
We hired hard working intelligent staff dedicated to our mission. I'd like to think that sharing my productivity bonus with staff, who after all shared in making seeing more patients possible, helped with boost staff morale. I worked pretty hard at the health center, where my 3.5 patients an hours was a high productivity outlier.
I boosted my numbers by serving nearly 100 Suboxone patients and a large panel of not-to-difficult psychiatric patients who required quarterly follow-up. Before I left our clinical numbers were enviable, revenues far outpaced expenses, staff turnover was low and patient satisfaction was high. Our patient panel mushroomed from 2,500 to 7,500, FTEs of providers grew from 1.5 to 4.5, staffing increased from 18 to 45.
All of this was accomplished within a larger organization of 300 with three practice sites and without much input from senior management, who decided to reassert control over our facility. With some stimulus money they purchased a building with the intention of again tripling the size of staff. But if they were to control the move, the needed a new medical director. I was out.
Six weeks ago I joined a private Family Medicine group. Mea culpa. I should have done a better job vetting them. They are caring, intelligent practitioners but practicing a style of medicine that would burn me out in no time!
In the interest of efficiency, there are times when three doctors are supported by only one MA. Patient waits at the front desk to verify insurance can take up to 45 minutes. I am routinely 45-60 minutes behind schedule. Patients routinely wait interminably only to spend a few rushed minutes with me. Adding insult to injury, I was informed that I was not permitted to discuss anything with medical assistants. If I had concerns of any kind, I was to contact the often unavailable office manager.
I love being a family doctor. I am honored to serve folks as they struggle with disease and strive to live healthy lives. I enjoy the intellectual breadth of primary care. It is a wonderful gift making a living serving appreciative patients.
Until these last six weeks I was perplexed by doctors who never would have become physicians had they known how odious the current practice environment has become. I hate this ridiculous rat race. There are no winners. Patients get inferior care. Providers burn out.
Inspired by my wonderful personal physician, I am entertain jumping aboard the Ideal Medical Practice bandwagon. I needed the trauma of the last six weeks to prompt conservative me to contemplate so radical a move.
Hope everyone has a productive and happy day.