This all changed when I began practicing in the Direct Care model. Now, I have fewer patients, giving me more time to spend with each one. With the ability to really form relationships, and dig deeper into diagnosis, behavior patterns, family dynamics and other important lifestyle factors, I really feel like I can make a difference in people’s lives. There are no more “meaningless use” clicks in the EMR. Did I mention no insurance billing codes? I now have a much better work-life balance, which gives me the time needed to take care of myself. Just as importantly for me as a physician, more time to “practice what I preach” to be a good role model and coach.
Now when I recommend a new nutrition program for my patients, I have already done it and can speak personally to the experience of what they should expect and give pointers. If I find a new workout routine, I can tell my patients what I am doing and what they too could try. Next on my list is Gyrotonics. I am practicing yoga and guided meditation with mindfulness. And I am finally caught up on my own doctor’s appointments.
Another area that used to add to my stress level was being on call. Covering for a large practice, the messages never stopped and I rarely knew the patients. In my Direct Care practice, my patients can message me 24/7 via our secure mobile app, but when I’m off, I choose a few times a day when I look at the app and respond to patient questions. No longer does dinner have to be interrupted for the “emergent” refill or sinus infection. In real medical urgencies, my patients can call me on my cell phone; however, emergency calls are very infrequent because of the small number of patients and the nature of the respectful relationship we are able to develop.
Working in Direct Care has allowed me to heal from burn out and be fully present and compassionate with each patient encounter. I have time for patients, time for my family, and time for me. I am fully able to practice the type of medicine I am passionate about and that patients deserve.
© 2018 New Jersey Association of Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons
The Journal is the official magazine of the New Jersey Association of Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons (NJAOPS). NJAOPS is the sixth largest state affiliate of the American Osteopathic Association. NJAOPS represents the interests of more than 4,700 active osteopathic physicians, residents, interns and medical students. Founded in 1901, NJAOPS is one of the most active medical associations in New Jersey with 12 county societies.