Why MD Mentors? After over 20 years as a practicing physician, I grew weary of meeting unhappy doctors. These were some of the smartest and kindest people I knew; yet most of them were miserable. My heart was breaking for them. During two separate retreats about three years apart, it became crystal clear to me that I was being invited to “heal the healers”. I decided I wanted to do something to make things better for the brave souls who had ventured into medicine. I created MD Mentors to help physicians discover that it is possible to practice medicine today in the way they dreamed.
Training My undergraduate degree is in Human Development and Social Policy, with a concentration in Public Health, from Northwestern University. Then I studied Health Care Ethics at Loyola University of Chicago and was granted a Master of Pastoral Studies. I trained at two of the best primary care programs in the country: I received my M.D. from the University of Missouri, Columbia and did my internship and Family Medicine residency at the University of Washington in Seattle. I became Board Certified in Family Medicine (despite being post-partum and pumping breast milk on the floor of the bathroom during the exam!). Years later, I studied with the Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine in San Diego and became Board Certified in Integrative Holistic Medicine.
Practicing in “The System” After residency, I joined a group of eight family doctors at Providence Greenlake. These were great doctors and it was fun to build my practice with them. However, my husband got an offer of a dream job at the University of California, Irvine, to start the biomedical engineering program, so we moved to Southern California in 1995. At the time, the winds of change were blowing through medicine in the United States. In the few months between job search and moving, three of the four practices I had interviewed with had gone out of business. I decided to work in a large HMO practice; it was one of the few practices in Orange County where Family Doctors were still delivering babies. I appreciated the skillful doctors that were my partners and the opportunity to practice part-time.
However, my “half days” kept growing longer because of the amount of time I spent with my patients didn’t fit into the 10 minute appointment time slots. I also found other doctors’ patients stopped by my station to ask me questions because, “My doctor doesn’t have time.”
Hoping Academic Medicine would be better Eventually I moved my practice to the University. It was a wonderful opportunity to train residents and to mentor students. The faculty practice, however, was stressful. I found myself apologizing when opening nearly every door to a patient room. I was often running late by no fault of my own and rarely had the chart, lab reports, and/or supplies that I needed.
The Sabattical After about five years, I quit to go on sabbatical with my professor husband and our two school age daughters. We had many wonderful family adventures. During the year of living in the hill town of Siena, Italy, I experienced the “solopreneurs” of small town Tuscany. I remembered my dreams for medicine and decided to create a practice that would let me live the life I wanted and have the relationships I desired with my patients.
Renaissance Family Medicine In 2006, I established a solo practice in my home office. I do house calls, I take as much time as I need with my patients, and I’m home almost every day after school when my daughters get home. I created this practice in one of the worst primary care markets in the country at a time when solo practices were all but disappearing.
It is great to have time to take vacations with my family.
I love spending time in the garden.
What do you want to have time for?
We spent a sabbatical year in Siena, Italy before I started my membership practice. This was one our return visit five years later.
Note the baguettes in the basket!
They want what we have. I share my story not to tell you that you should start a practice exactly like mine, but rather to show that it is possible, now, to have the practice you want. You will be able to have the life you want. And, your patients will love you for believing in it and creating it. MD Mentors can help you discover your way.