Do you ever feel that you aren’t getting as much satisfaction out of your career as you once did? Maybe you just need a new perspective! Read on to see how one physician reinvigorated his passion for medicine by relocating across the country.
I Discovered the Cure for My Physician Burnout in Billings, Montana
Do you miss the sublime joy of practicing medicine and helping people? Do you feel like the currents of modern healthcare are sweeping you away from all that attracted you at the beginning into the vortex that is the current medical industrial complex? I've been there and found a solution.
Five years ago, I had just completed my thirty-first year of solo clinical practice in south central Pennsylvania. Over that time, my enjoyment of patient interaction and care never waned. What changed was the environment in which I delivered care as the overhead and burden of practice insidiously crowded out the human interaction that is the essence of good medicine. Local options were limited since the large community teaching hospital had become a "branded" institution, heavy in middle management that gave employed physicians the same degree of autonomy as the custodial staff. It was then that a miraculous set of circumstances brought me west to Montana for the first job interview of my life. It was love at first sight!
Today I get up in the morning and look out on three distant mountain ranges with a view that makes Big Sky Country an ever-present reality. I have a seven-minute drive to the Neuroscience Center where I see outpatients from 8 to 5 Monday through Friday. Five other neurologists and neurosurgeons, all superb clinicians, along with our exceptional staff of mid-levels, nurses, and medical assistants make up our extended family. My wife summarized it best when she said, "You don't go to work anymore, you just go in to play with your friends.” Together we use the best of modern technology to fulfill our mission to "reveal God's healing love by improving the health of the individuals and communities we serve.” In my fifth year here, I've found that to be more than an empty motto, but a daily purpose.
And what people we serve! I've never seen more appreciative and loyal patients. Their attitude consistently produces better compliance and outcomes and makes patient care a pleasure each day. I recall times when a few inches of snow would close schools and cancel office hours back in east. Now I'm not surprised when a couple in their eighties comes in during a six to eight-inch snowstorm from their home 300 miles away. They simply drive in the day before and stay overnight in a motel!
I practiced for over thirty years within an hour of three university medical schools and I've always taught medical students and residents in both hospital and clinic settings. I continue to enjoy that experience with students from two west coast medical schools as well as nurse practitioner and physician assistant students. Of course, as a physician, my patients get the most hours of instruction and explanation and they in turn teach me new things every day.
When I started, the practice manager and administrator simply told me to do what I did best and liked doing the most and left the rest up to me. They remain as true to their words now as they did when I first came here. The term "micro-manage" is apparently not in their vocabulary. Neither was "non-compete clause.” That alone speaks volumes of the values and commitment of St. Vincent's to its community.
I can't even begin to list all the ways that Billings, Montana and the West in general have improved my enjoyment of life outside of the practice of medicine. It would take forever. That, of course, is the other half of the cure for burnout and you'll just have to experience it yourself to fully appreciate it.
Remember the modern adage that "when you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.” Take your lead from the universal solution to computer problems: when all else fails reboot your system!
Jeffrey F. Mosser, M.D.
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St. Vincent is currently recruiting physicians for the following specialties: NeuroHospitalist, Dermatologist, Endocrinologist, Gastroenterologist, and Sleep Medicine. To explore these physician jobs at St. Vincent and other top healthcare organizations, browse our latest job opportunities.