Let me tell you a little bit about my ideal job. Maybe that will tell you something about my ideals, my values, my goals, my hopes and dreams.
I would like to be a family medicine primary care physician for a small community. I would be in private practice, but I would have excellent connections with local supportive ancillary services like dieticians, diabetes educators, physical therapy, and sub-specialty care. I would have a broad and diverse patient population that challenges me on a daily basis. Babies, baby-boomers, the extreme health-nut that wants education on alternative medicine, the extremely sick obese/DM/HTN/CAD/COPD/CHF/hypothyroid patient on dialysis and home O2 that needs education on everything, the ethnic-mish-mash, the indulgently elite and the financially-challenged -- I'd like try to juggle it all and coordinate care with other doctors as appropriate.
I would reduce the co-pay for my patients that get started on an exercise program and lose weight, quit smoking, go to support groups, become educated on their disease processes and start taking charge of their health -- with me as their coach. I will brainstorm other incentives for patients to these ends.
I would encourage my patients to have their own health records -- available online through Google Health or similar services to allow for seamless care if they are admitted to the hospital. I would encourage my patients to interview their families to provide an in-depth Family History. I would provide up to date patient handouts. I would create monthly emails/newsletters and update my patients on the specific conditions they have and encourage them to come in and see me if there are any concerns or changes that can be made.
I would make sure that I have adequate time with both new and complicated patients. I would make sure that patients can call and make a same-week or even same-day appointments. I will use services like GrandCentral and Google Voice to screen phone calls and organize my life with a single phone, but multiple numbers for the office, family and friends. I would take care of patients on an urgent care basis too... so they don't have to go to the ER when they don't need to. Sure, this means that I would see less patients every day but if I do my job right, then I don't have to scramble to see them again and again for the potentially-preventable things I may have caught in the first place with an additional 5-10 minutes sitting one-on-one with a patient. If that means that I have less staff to keep overhead costs low, so be it. I would like to be self-sufficient as much as possible.
I would like to take care of a young couple. I would like to counsel them about preparing for pregnancy and then be there for the delivery of their first child. (Maybe even deliver the child?) I would then take care of the kid until he/she is old enough to have children as well, completing the cycle. THAT would make me feel a sense of satisfaction as a true Family Medicine practitioner.
I would like to get to know my patients so intimately that I can provide a narrative about them, like some of my preceptors are able to do seemingly without any effort. If my patients are admitted to the hospital or sent to a specialist, I can glance at their Problem List and their Patient Narrative (two sheets I would update at each and every visit) and provide a clean, concise history that is only 1-2 pages but addresses the relevant biopsychosocial issues.
I would like to be an expert on broad differential diagnoses; ones that encompass the long-tail diagnoses on a cost-efficient yet cognitively appropriate basis. I would strive to avoid becoming a diagnostic robot and instead, really think about each individual patient.
Most of all, I would like to be a part of the SOLUTION for our current health care problems. I would like to come up with new innovative ways to integrate today's technologies with traditional doctor-patient relationships that are built upon the fundamentals of trust, confidence, competence and mutual respect.
I've read a little bit about the "Ideal-Micro-Practice" and it outlines pretty much the sort of thing that I want to do.
Of course, this is a dream job. And I'm a dreamer for thinking that I can do anything close to this in today's economic climate. There's a lot of harsh realities involving paperwork, bureucratic red tape, the BUSINESS of medicine and making enough money to stay afloat. I am only a medical student. I have a few more years to figure that sort of thing out... and I'd like to find a residency program that can prepare me for my ideal job.
These are the things I strive for in my work and think about on a daily basis, even now, to prepare myself for the future. It is exhilarating.