One Hell of a Good Gig
By Urgent Care Doc
As a family medicine trained physician, I have to say that urgent care is where its at. Its “hot fire” as the kids would say. I went into family medicine because I enjoyed being able to perform in multiple areas of medicine. I heard my attendings and older colleagues rave about delivering babies, assisting in surgeries and rounding in the hospital. As I approached becoming a grown-up doctor I realized that those days are in the past. The fragmentation of medicine, and specialization, sub-specialization, and sub-sub-specialization have really changed how family medicine physicians practice. My choices as a new attending was work at a regular FM clinic, become a hospitalist or go be a sub-sub-specialtist. Looking closer at the new FM clinic, I saw that the majority of practices faze out pediatrics, and a fair amount of the procedures that I had been trained perform were now referred to specialist. For the most part you end up seeing adult patients. Now lets be clear, I have no issues with this set up and a fair amount of my colleagues have gone that route, and are very happy.
As for me, I still wrestled with my options, and to add to my confusion, while in residency I had the great fortune to moonlight at a local urgent care. At the time, this was just a way to get some extra cash for student loans. What I really mean is that I needed funding for an overpriced old fashion or the occasional libation. 😉
Booze aside, I really enjoyed the variety that urgent care delivered. I was doing joint ejections in one room, I&D in the next, and counseling a patient on hypertension in the other. It was freaking awesome. I thought, “I can get used to this”.
I finally felt like a doctor. Now mind you I’ve been called a doctor before, at least for the past 2 years in residency. However, now I felt like a real doctor. No more looking around assessing the perimeter and wondering if the patient is actually talking to me. Ohh yeah that’s right! I’m the only other person in the room now! This was amazing. So logically you’d assume I’d look for an urgent care job, well that wasn’t the case. At the time I had a large, I mean GIGANTIC student loan burden, as most of us do out of med school. So after assessing all my options I decided on hospital medicine. At the time the financial incentives were tilted in that direction. So there I went, but in the back of my mind I really couldn’t shake the urgent care contagion.
I learned a lot as a hospitalist and I enjoyed working with my colleagues. However, a combination of night shifts and their accompanying lethargic hang over, plus my desire to see a more assorted patient population strengthened my drive to want something different. I started looking for an urgent care position after 6 months on the job. As a hospitalist I enjoyed the depth of medicine required to provide great care, but the lifestyle wasn’t sustainable for me. I knew that I needed a change of setting and I wanted to see a more varied patient population. Eventually, I found an urgent care clinic that opened their doors to me and haven’t looked back since. Now, I see both kids and adults and perform a variety of procedures. I am able to use the skills I learned in residency everyday at work. An urgent care setting fits my skills and personality like a glove. Now, I can really practice FAMILY medicine to its fullest!